While there are several issues that are of great importance in our day, there is none more global and far reaching for many of us as Missionary Servants than the humanitarian crisis unfolding with regard to undocumented people. Whether we are ministering in the United States, Colombia, Honduras, Haiti or Mexico, this issue is one that is front and center in the lives of so many people we serve daily. The recent immigration raids that affected several of our missions in Mississippi, the vast numbers fleeing into Colombia from Venezuela, those escaping violence in Honduras, as well as the personal impact on some of our brothers whose families are in danger in Cameroon, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala continue to concern our Congregation.
Regardless of what side of the political spectrum you may be on as to the solutions of this crisis, it demands a religious, moral and humanitarian response from the Church and the Missionary Servants. Current policies in the United States around asylum, detention, and the separation of children and families are contrary to both our values as a nation and the call of the Gospel to shelter the homeless, feed the hungry and clothe the naked – to welcome the stranger. I believe that it is possible to stand for strong borders without forsaking compassion for the weak and poor.
I am proud of our men on the front lines of this issue who are providing comfort and pastoral care as well as shelter, food and clothing to those suffering. Our own Fr. Roberto Mena, S.T., was featured in a recent article in the LA Times about the raids in Mississippi (hyperlink to article). As most of these individuals are Catholic, our charism for the Preservation of the Faith summons a robust response in also providing loving, welcoming faith communities.
Throughout history religious organizations and the Catholic Church have served as societal brokers of human rights. For the United States, as a nation of immigrants, this has played out over and over as waves of immigrants from Europe, Southeast Asia, Africa, Cuba and now Central America come seeking refuge. We must, along with others, be the moral voice knowing that all our social teaching as well as Scripture backs this up. Statements and declarations are important, but action is also needed – action that gets attention. Our response needs to be something incarnated. We must pray; we must assist; we must act on behalf of those so in need.
In the Most Holy Trinity,
Father Michael K. Barth, S.T.