Catholics urged to advocate for migrants

The front of a postcard provided by Catholic Charities to parishes around Kentucky asks, “How do YOU want to be treated?” Catholics statewide are urged to send this card to their federal lawmakers and the governor. (Image courtesy of Catholic Charities of Louisville)

Kentucky’s four bishops — and their Catholic Charities agencies — are calling on pastors and parish leaders to educate parishioners statewide about the plight of migrants, debunk myths and encourage action on behalf of this vulnerable population.

“Pope Francis reminds us to view migrants not as numbers or problems but as persons, seeing their faces and listening to their stories as we try to respond as best we can to their situations,” Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz wrote in a letter to parish leaders launching this new effort.

To begin with, parishioners are encouraged to learn more about the plight of migrants — both refugees and immigrants — and to separate fact from fiction. Catholic Charities has provided a fact sheet for parishes to share with their congregations.

Parishioners are then encouraged to take action by writing to federal lawmakers and the governor.

Catholic Charities of Louisville has created templates for postcards that say “How do YOU want to be treated?” The question is accompanied by a quote from Deuteronomy. On the back, parishioners are asked to write a simple message in support of migrants.

Parishes are urged to collect the postcards and give them to Catholic Charities by the end of September.

Kentucky bishops and representatives of Catholic Charities plan to hand-deliver the messages to lawmakers and the governor.

“We must call our elected officials to live up to the ideals of this nation in welcoming and treating humanely those vulnerable persons fleeing violence, persecution and economic instability in their countries of origin,” Archbishop Kurtz writes in his letter.

The Catholic Church has long called on Congress to develop comprehensive immigration reform that would prioritize keeping families together, among

other things. But current U.S. policy is pulling families part.

For example, last month, more than 600 immigrant workers were taken into custody during a raid by Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Mississippi. The children of these immigrants were abandoned at their schools. Last year, the U.S. government separated 2,600 children from their parents in just three months.

Refugees — people fleeing persecution and war, for example — have also suffered under current U.S. policy. The U.S. routinely allowed for about 100,000 refugees to be admitted in recent years. President Donald Trump has dramatically reduced that number during his presidency. The number of refugees allowed in the next federal fiscal year, which begins in October, is expected to be announced soon, said Deacon Lucio Caruso, director of mission for Catholic Charities of Louisville.

Deacon Caruso, who is coordinating the campaign for the Archdiocese of Louisville, said, “We hope for thousands of postcards that will say the Catholic community really cares about this. We hope that will send a message — beyond the messages in the individual postcards.”

He noted that the effort is part of Catholic Charities’ Be Golden campaign, which calls on people to treat others the way they want to be treated.

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