Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In a recent exhortation to school children visiting the Vatican, Pope Francis urged Christians that involvement in “politics is a Christian duty.  We Christians cannot be like Pilate and wash our hands clean of things. We need to get involved in politics because it’s one of the highest expressions of charity.  It takes the common into consideration.”  The leadership of the Franciscans in the United States earlier this month wrote to President Obama to express their support of comprehensive immigration reform.  Below is their letter.

As the Provincial Leaders of the Franciscan Friars (O.F.M.) in the U.S., we write to offer our appreciation, encouragement and prayers for your continued call to Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform. We are heartened that Congress is considering this action and have written the legislators to express our ardent support. As this legislation develops, we are encouraging Congress to shape their decisions based upon the moral framework put forth by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, spelled out in greater detail in a January 8, 2013 letter sent to you and Congressional leadership by our Directors of Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation. Namely, that the following principles be part of our nation’s comprehensive immigration reform efforts:

  • A path to citizenship that ensures  that all immigrants have access to  full rights
  • A legal employment structure that protects both migrants and United States workers
  • A realistic and sustainable mechanism for welcoming future immigrants
  • Expedited family reunification and an end to policies and practices that keep families apart
  • Due process protections, and accountable and humane enforcement of our immigration laws
  • Economic assistance to and fair competition with developing nations to reduce push factors that lead to unlawful migration

We offer these principles as part of our ministry, as Franciscans responsible for caring for those with whom we have the privilege to minister. The Franciscan friars in the U.S. serve millions of people in more than 220 ministry sites. In many of these ministries, we witness each day the suffering borne by our undocumented brothers and sisters. This service we have the honor to offer is the latest chapter in our own experience of immigration in the United States. Franciscans have actively participated in the American story of migration since the 1500s when followers of St. Francis helped settle Saint Augustine, Florida.          

The dehumanization and second-class personhood that the current immigration system creates must end. The work in Congress is a positive step, particularly if it will help reunify families and more strongly support the least powerful among us.

Our Roman Catholic moral tradition demands that we speak out in the face of injustice. We will continue our commitment to serve people in need, but also to call for the legal and social changes that will lead to greater justice for God’s people. May God give you the understanding, wisdom and courage to complete the work needed to assure the creation of just and humane comprehensive immigration reform legislation.

Sincerely,

Leadership of Franciscan (O.F.M.) Provinces of the United States

For more information about our Franciscan Leadership in the United States and throughout the English speaking world, you may access their website at www.escofm.org

Peace and all good,

Fr. Mark