For Sunday, February 12, 2012
6th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Leviticus 13:1-2, 44-46
1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1
One of the key themes of Catholic social teaching is the "Call to Family, Community, and Participation."
In the enunciation of this principle, the bishops of the United States have acknowledged the sacredness of the individual person, but also his or her social nature as well. They go on to state, "Marriage and the family are the central social institutions that must be supported and strengthened, not undermined. We believe people have a right and a duty to participate in society, seeking together the common good and well-being of all, especially the poor and vulnerable."
In the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, published in 2004 by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, chapter 5 on "The Family, the Vital Cell of Society" concludes with a section that describes society at the service of the family. The authors summarize Catholic teaching on society and the family with these words: "The starting point for a correct and constructive relationship between the family and society is the recognition of the subjectivity and the social priority of the family...Society, and in particular State institutions, respecting the priority and "antecedence" of the family, is called to guarantee and foster the genuine identity of family life and to avoid and fight all that alters or wounds it" [CSDC #252].
A hot topic in this year's election campaign in the United States is also addressed in the Compendium: that of immigration. Catholic social teaching recognizes the rights of nations to regulate immigration. But, according to the Compendium, that regulation is moderated by the primacy of the family as the basic unit of society. "Immigrants are to be received as persons and helped, together with their families, to become part of societal life. In this context, the right of reuniting families should be respected and promoted" [CSDC #298, emphasis original].
Last year, the state of Alabama passed one of the toughest laws in the nation regarding immigration. Some parts of the law are under litigation, while other parts have been implemented. Many churches in Alabama—including the Catholic bishops of the state—spoke out against provisions in the law that prohibited people from aiding illegal immigrants. Now, as the state legislature begins its new session, there are a number of proposals to revisit the law. Writing in the Birmingham Business Journal on Monday, Evan Belanger outlined some of the proposed changes. This comes on the heels of a report released last week by the University of Alabama that suggests that Alabama's new immigration law costs the state nearly $11 billion annually.
An article in this past week's National Catholic Reporter highlights the stark intersection among family, immigration, and the church. The wife of Felix Hernandez was deported almost three years ago. He was nearly finished with his studies to become a deacon in the Archdiocese of Dubuque when Cynthia was picked up during a raid at a Swift processing plant in Marshalltown, Iowa. Felix completed his studies and was ordained without Cynthia being there. "Felix stresses to his children that even though their mother is not with them, God is with their family and they have to stay together," writes Eloisa Perez-Lozano in the article.
It seems that we've come to the point in which states have begun to treat immigrants like lepers, almost as though they are some kind of infection that needs to be purged with the antibiotic of harsh laws and restrictive ordinances. As Archbishop Dolan reminded us in a blog post two years ago, we Catholics have seen this all before. The Nativist controversies of the 19th century were rife with anti-immigrant fervor.
But the reality is that there are very few of us who can claim any birthright to the land in which we live. And even those who are called "Native Americans" came across a land bridge millennia before the first Europeans set foot in this hemisphere. In some ways, we are all originally emigrants from Africa.
We might well ask ourselves what leprosy of ill will infects us, what selfishness, or racism, or hatred might well up in our hearts. And, like the leper in the Gospel, ask Jesus to make us clean in our attitudes, in our hearts, and in our approach to others in our midst.
no one is a stranger to you,
and every person finds a welcome in your presence.
Help us to open our hearts to all who dwell in our midst
and strengthen our resolve to show your love to each person in need.
Under the guidance of your Spirit,
may we build a society of respect for all
and live in concord and peace with our neighbors.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.
USCCB CATHOLIC SOCIAL MINISTRY GATHERING
Taking place from February 12–15, the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering is an annual event in which hundreds of Catholic leaders from throughout the country gather, pray, and get the inside scoop on various topics of social concern. They also take the opportunity to put faith and learning into action by visiting representatives and senators on Capitol Hill. This year's event will be live Tweeted and blogged. Visit http://csmg.wordpress.com/2012/01/24/social-ministry-and-social-media-a-match-made-in-heaven/ for more info.
COLLECTION FOR THE CHURCH IN EASTERN EUROPE
Many dioceses will take up the collection for the Church in Eastern Europe on Ash Wednesday, February 22. Resources are available on the USCCB Web site at: http://usccb.org/catholic-giving/opportunities-for-giving/central-and-eastern-europe/collection/index.cfm.
ACTION ALERT FROM THE USCCB
The bishops of the United States are urging Catholics to contact their members of Congress regarding the recently released HHS mandate to include sterilization, contraceptives, and abortion-inducing drugs in health plans. Information for parishioners, including a video from Archbishop Timothy Dolan, president of the USCCB, can be found at: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/conscience-protection/index.cfm. Include this information in your parish bulletin for the next few weeks.
FORMING CONSCIENCES FOR FAITHFUL CITIZENSHIP
Bulletin articles, podcasts, Scripture study, lesson plans, discussion guides, and worship ideas are all available from the USCCB in this election year. Plan now how you will use these resources in your parish in this election year. You can access all of these items at: http://usccb.org/issues-and-action/faithful-citizenship/.
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