Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, Auxiliary Bishop of Seattle
Chairman, U.S. Conference of Catholic : Bishops' Committee on Migration:
We would first like to congratulate President-elect Donald J. Trump and give our support for all efforts to work together to promote the common good, especially those to protect the most vulnerable among us. I personally pledge my prayers for Mr. Trump, all elected officials, and those who will work in the new administration. I offer a special word to migrant and refugee families living in the United States: be assured of our solidarity and continued accompaniment as you work for a better life.
We believe the family unit is the cornerstone of society, so it is vital to protect the integrity of the family. For this reason, we are reminded that behind every "statistic" is a person who is a mother, father, son, daughter, sister or brother and has dignity as a child of God. We pray that as the new administration begins its role leading our country, it will recognize the contributions of refugees and immigrants to the overall prosperity and well-being of our nation. We will work to promote humane policies that protect refugee and immigrants' inherent dignity, keep families together, and honor and respect the laws of this nation.
Serving and welcoming people fleeing violence and conflict in various regions of the world is part of our identity as Catholics. The Church will continue this life-saving tradition. Today, with more than 65 million people forcibly displaced from their homes, the need to welcome refugees and provide freedom from persecution is more acute than ever and our 80 dioceses across the country are eager to continue this wonderful act of accompaniment born of our Christian faith. We stand ready to work with a new administration to continue to ensure that refugees are humanely welcomed without sacrificing our security or our core values as Americans. A duty to welcome and protect newcomers, particularly refugees, is an integral part of our mission to help our neighbors in need.
We pray for President -elect Trump and all leaders in public life, that they may rise to the responsibilities entrusted to them with grace and courage. And may all of us as Catholics and Americans remain a people of solidarity with others in need and a nation of hospitality which treats others as we would like to be treated.
From the Pastor
In a powerful talk to participants at the third World Meeting of Popular Movements, held this last November 5th, Pope Francis stated:
“The basic terrorism that derives from the global control of money on earth threatens the entire humanity, and gives rise to other terrorisms.” In further comments the Holy Father said it also gives rise to fear, the building of walls, and other forms of exclusion, including migrants. He reminded us that all the social teaching of the magisterium rebels against the idol that is money, which rules instead of serves, tyrannizes and terrorizes humanity.
I spoke about the election last week at mass primarily quoting from the Franciscan writer and spiritual leader,
Fr. Richard Rohr (his response to the election may be found on the Website cac.org). I agree with him that this election produced fear, and continues to do so. It is felt deeply by those who are most vulnerable in our country. The anger, fear, and anxiety spilling into the streets are not merely "whining" because of the outcome of the election. The rhetoric employed in the campaign was shaming to the core of some individuals' identity, their security, and their dignity. Some among us, and perhaps this is hard to appreciate because of the rather privileged and insular lives we lead in our Mesa neighborhood, but especially Muslims, Latinos, women, immigrants and the poor find their basic safety and security and respect under particular threat due to the election outcome.
We are not to judge this as Christians. We must help to heal, particularly with our mercy and compassion and working on behalf of transforming the injustices the Pope and Catholic Social Teaching elucidate. For the vulnerable who feel they have been rendered more vulnerable, we lament and promise to stand by them. As a follower of Jesus, a Catholic priest for 35 years, and as your Pastor, I am deeply committed to this. My moral viewpoint is shaped by Catholic Social Teaching and is not based primarily on the well-being of those who are on the top, but first with those who are on the bottom.
Here at St. Bridget we offered three (3) sessions on Catholic Social Teaching. We helped to articulate the Catholic Bishops’ document regarding voting with an informed conscience. We handed this document out at mass. I wrote in the bulletin briefly on some of its pertinent points, especially pertaining to the misplaced notion that the Church somehow could force you to vote only one way. Catholics indeed faced a dilemma during the discernment process for whom to vote. For instance, we strongly hold to a conviction that would overturn the Supreme Court’s decision on abortion. However, we also strongly believe racism or the denigration of people to be a moral evil (See Catholic Catechism 1935,2113). We were encouraged to consider and pray about what our Catholic Christian choice was to be. We didn’t have to choose at all if so moved. So did we do this work of conscience formation about our vote with all our effort? It may have been agonizing.
Voting in a fashion that may procure a reversal of the court’s decision on abortion is laudable. But if the reason we voted for a candidate was in any way because we agreed with their bigoted or demeaning remarks, this is considered sinful. If we voted primarily out of irrational fear, or out of ignorance, or because we disagree with Catholic Social Teaching as expressed in the Magisterium, then we are in a state of non-unity with our universal catholic family. So, self-introspection is highly important for all of us now. What were our motives? Where are we in our catholic identity? What really influenced our vote – was it Christ and the Kingdom of God – or possibly the idols of money, security, and comfort?
Love, charity, compassion, and respect for others are the components of a Christian heart. Christians are committed to the transformation of racism, to the defense of people against bullies, to the stopping of and healing of sexual harassment, and to relieving the sufferings of displaced persons. These are Christian values that traditionally were “givens”, no matter to what party you adhered. These values are what many consider under threat, and are what people are strongly fearful of losing. And so people protest.
A spiritual writer commented that what does bring the two Americas together is fear. And beginning to deal with the deep terror, desperation, and helplessness which may be felt across the board is actually something that may bring us together. There is work to be done; prayer, joy, courage and strength are deeply needed. Following the examples of the saints and martyrs who came before us, we must be prepared to risk our own safety, let go of our sense of moral or racial superiority and find ways as Catholics, in particular, to bring peace and hope to our world. We cannot accept degradation. May our own introspection bring cleansing and healing so that we can continue enthusiastically this work of the Lord. Fr. Richard Rohr included this prayer at the end of his article:
All vulnerable and merciful God,
We do not know what is ours to do.
We feel scared and alone today.
We are tired of taking sides.
We cannot hold any more fear or anger or rejection.
Help us trust that no feeling is final.
And that you will have the full and final word.
You are indeed a Suffering God, may we hold this suffering with You for those who voted for Hillary Clinton, for those who voted for President-elect Donald Trump, and for the many who have felt excluded by our politics in the many ways that we do indeed exclude.
We offer ourselves as best we can to hold this Love outward and open toward all, just as You never cease to do toward us.
We believe You are praying this prayer through us.
P.S. If you go to the Website cac.org you may find the full text of both Fr. Richard’s and Rev. Cynthia Bourgeault’s reflections on the presidential election.