One Family Under God: Archbishop Gomez Addresses Immigration Reform

‘In God’s eyes, people do not cease to be our brothers and sisters just because they have an irregular immigration status,’ he said in a Jan. 9 newspaper column.

Crowds turned up for a town-hall meeting in Los Angeles at which Archbishop Jose Gomez spoke on immigration reform.
Crowds turned up for a town-hall meeting in Los Angeles at which Archbishop Jose Gomez spoke on immigration reform. (photo: 2014 CNA/Victor Aleman/

LOS ANGELES — For Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, if the Church is a family, then the faithful are all brothers and sisters.

This familial attitude is especially true when it comes to migration, Archbishop Gomez noted in his Jan. 9 column for Angelus News.

“We are all family. And family has to stick together and help one another. If one member of the family is suffering, we are called to help,” the archbishop stated.

Highlighting the issues of an immigration system in need of repair, Archbishop Gomez touched on the topics of torn families, injustice and deportation protection as part of the new year’s goal to face the unfinished business of immigration reform.

For more than 25 years, the U.S. bishops have recognized the first week of each new year as National Migration Week. The theme for this year is “We Are One Family Under God.”

“This is the basic teaching of the Scriptures and the Catechism — that the Church is the family of God,” the archbishop noted, saying the faithful are called to live what they believe, and “God is expecting nothing less from us.”

Archbishop Gomez contended that part of the immigration problem is that America is forgetting its roots in immigration, an essential part of the beauty, genius and cultural heritage of the country.

He said that another part of the problem is not seeing immigrants as part of one family in Christ.

“Too many families are being torn apart by deportations, uncertainty about their ‘status’ and delays in our visa process that can take years, even decades,” he noted, saying that millions of families are being exploited within the workplace without any rights or benefits.

Although some well-intentioned efforts have tried to tackle the many facets of the current immigration system, the archbishop of the largest archdiocese in the United States believes that these measures will provide only temporary relief to a recurring problem.

“Our system is broken and needs to be modernized to meet the realities of a global economy,” the archbishop pointed out, saying that a more comprehensive approach needs to be implemented.

While immigration offers various political challenges, Archbishop Gomez pointed out that this issue also poses a special moral challenge, especially to Catholics.

“In God’s eyes, people do not cease to be our brothers and sisters just because they have an irregular immigration status,” Archbishop Gomez stated, saying, “There is no excuse for indifference or for treating someone else with less respect or love.”

“We are called to love, and love cannot be divided. We can’t close our hearts to any of our brothers and sisters without closing our hearts to God,” he continued, saying Catholics have a responsibility for others, even people they don’t know and will probably never see.

In facing the solution to comprehensive immigration reform, the archbishop recommended a deeper understanding and more familial attitude towards immigrants.

“I think we need a change of heart, a deepening of our perspective — so that we can understand the urgency of our task,” Archbishop Gomez suggested, saying that if we truly believed that the people affected by immigration were members of our family, we would be more inclined to act.

Moving forward, the archbishop suggested to pray for each other and for world leaders, so that everyone may grow in love and experience a new sense of solidarity with brothers and sisters who are suffering and vulnerable.

He added, “And let us ask our Blessed Mother Mary to guide our leaders to walk the path of cooperation, as they seek to enact the immigration reforms that our nation needs.”

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