USCCB Migration Chairman Deeply Disappointed By Administration’s Decision To Terminate The Central American Minors Parole Program

August 21, 2017

WASHINGTON—Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Texas, chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration, expresses his opposition to the Administration’s decision to end parole processing for individuals in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala who apply to enter the U.S. through the Central American Minors (CAM) program. Bishop Vasquez, who is currently in El Salvador, says that the elimination of this program puts the lives of vulnerable children at risk for greater harm.

Bishop Vásquez’ full statement follows:

“My brother bishops and I are deeply disappointed by the Administration’s decision to terminate the critical parole option of the CAM program.  In terminating the parole option, the Administration has unnecessarily chosen to cut off proven and safe alternatives to irregular and dangerous migration for Central American children, including those previously approved for parole who are awaiting travel in their home countries. Pope Francis has called on us to protect migrant children, noting that “among migrants, children constitute the most vulnerable group.” We supported the CAM program, which included both refugee and parole options, precisely because it provided a legal and organized way for children to migrate to the United States and reunify with families. Terminating the parole program will neither promote safety for these children nor help our government regulate migration.

In El Salvador, we have seen first-hand the very real problems that these children face. The Church, with its global presence, learns of this violence and persecution every day, in migrant shelters and in repatriation centers. We know that children must be protected. They must be given the ability to remain in their home countries and find opportunities, but they must also be able to leave and migrate safely to find protection when there are no alternatives. The CAM parole program offered part of that solution – a legal way to migrate for the most vulnerable of children.”

Homework: Homily for Thursday, July 13, 2017

To listen to the entire homily, click here.

Readings for Today

Consider the call in today’s gospel.  “Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, drive out demons.”  This is quite the homework.  Thank goodness that like any good teacher, Jesus gives help.  We are never on our own.  We live in the Spirit, we receive grace, we have God’s love.

What does this mean for us? That even if we face hardship, persecution, difficulty or suffering, we will never do so alone.  God is always with us.  And remember: nothing is impossible with God.

From the USCCB: U.S. Bishops’ Conference Chairman Urges Senate Passage Of “Iraq And Syria Genocide Emergency Relief And Accountability Act”

WASHINGTON—Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace, has urged the Senate to pass the “Iraq and Syria Genocide Emergency Relief and Accountability Act” (H.R. 390). The proposed legislation calls for much needed assistance for survivors of genocide, especially in Iraq and Syria, and would allow faith-based organizations (such as Catholic Relief Services) that are already providing humanitarian assistance to these populations, to access U.S. government funding in their work, increasing aid to those desperately in need.

In a letter to U.S. Senator Bob Corker, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Senator Benjamin Cardin, Ranking Member, Bishop Cantú wrote, “I commend you for your efforts to support those suffering persecution in Iraq and Syria and trust that swift Senate consideration and passage of H.R. 390 will contribute to a longer-term solution to the crisis in the region.”

Gifts: What do you bring to the Lord? Homily for Tuesday, February 28, 2017

To listen to the entire homily, click the link above.

Readings for Today

Gifts.  By focusing on gifts, one might think I have the seasons confused.  Are we preparing for Christmas? Is this Advent we are on the verge of entering? No.  Today’s first reading is really about what we can give to God.  Again these readings are so wonderful as we approach Lent.  How is it we can do more of what God wants us to give Him?

Listen to all these good things.  Works of charity.  Giving alms.  Refraining from evil.  Avoiding injustice.  A generous spirit.  These are wonderful acts.  These are great gifts to God for all He has done for us.  And most wonderful for us, God gives us far more than we can ever give Him.  God is never outdone in generosity.

This is what the Apostles learn in the gospel.  Just as the book of Sirach says a gift to God is returned seven-fold, so too will the apostles be so rewarded.  For the sacrifices they have made, the rewards will be great.  But these gifts will not be without hardship.  These gifts will not be without persecution.  These gifts will require the willingness of the apostles to suffer in the name of Jesus.

What is it you will give to God? What is it God wants you to do? What riches do you have to share with God, and the people of God?  And in what ways have you not given the gifts, or used them, or done something about them? Now is the time.  This is the acceptable hour.  Your salvation is near at hand.

Homily for Sunday, January 31, 2016

In the Broadway musical Oliver! based on the novel Oliver Twist, by Charles Dickens, a musical question is posed that is important to all of us: “Where is love?” The prophet Jeremiah reminds us of the deep eternal love God has for each one of us, and the apostle Paul writes about the qualities of love. In a world filled with such evil and sin, such moments of uncertainty, it is the love of God for us that can provide the firm foundation to see us through.

From the Order: A Grand Imam and a Dominican Unite Against Christian Persecution in Pakistan

With persecution against Christians rife as the result of radicals and militants,  the Grand Imam of Pakistan’s second largest mosque, Badshahi Mosque in Lahore,  Imam Syed Muhammad  Abdul Khabir Azad, and a Dominican priest, Father James Channan OP, are working together to protect the country’s embattled Christian minority. Father Channan is the Director of Peace Center, Lahore, whereas, Imam Abdul Khabir Azad serves as a board member and close collaborator of Peace Center.

In an exclusive joint interview with Aid to the Church in Need, Imam Abdul Khabir Azad and Father Channan described the conditions in Pakistan and their work together.

See more at: http://www.op.org/en/content/grand-imam-and-dominican-unite-against-christian-persecution-pakistan#sthash.ZGVMx1hI.dpuf

Homily for Monday, June 1, 2015

Readings for Today

There have been a few times in my life where I felt like the object of persecution. Certainly not the type of persecution in the first reading or especially in the parable told in today’s gospel, but a persecution nonetheless. It can be hard to be mocked, or ridiculed or worse for doing the right thing. To be able to do the right thing in the face of harm is courage. And it is courage we observe in those from the gospel seeking out a rightful share of grapes, or in Tobit burying the dead.

I too have found times where I have been alone in doing the good. But most of the time I do not display such courage. Too often it is easier not to make trouble, and to try to keep the peace. At other times it is easier to speak what I believe without considering what others have to say. Finding the right balance between standing up for what is right, and maintaining the respect for others is not always easy. Such is the challenge always.

In some ways, it is this keeping the balance that can make it difficult sometimes to understand Jesus. There are clearly moments where he seems compassionate and merciful. There are other times when he seems demanding and tough. And, it is not that one is right and the other is not; it is that both are the way we are called to be. For too often, we want things to be either / or, when in reality they are both / and. Dominicans express this when they refer to careful distinction about what is really meant by something.

And so the practice we are called to have in our own lives is to always be waiting and watching for the presence of God. This requires prayer, reflection, time alone in silence, and a deep desire in our hearts to do this. It means setting aside the distractions that keep us far from wanting to follow the will of God. It means setting aside the noise that comes from technology, or turning off the television, or realizing that the stuff at work can wait another day, or that our appearance is not the most important think in our lives.

So, do the right. And know that when you do, God is right there with you.

Homily for Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Readings for Today

Have you ever heard the expression, with friends like that who needs enemies?  Maybe you’ve even had a time where someone who was a friend of yours, challenged you with something that was very difficult to hear. Today’s gospel is a little bit like that. There is no greater gift received from the Lord Jesus than the gift of his Word and his presence. But sometimes believing the Word and acknowledging his presence, trying to be attentive to his will and the work that he calls us to do, can lead to very negative consequences at least in this world.

I gave them your word, and the world hated them.” It can be hard to imagine sometimes in our lives, with the God who loves us more than we can believe, being faithful to this God could have such tremendous consequences that someone could be hated for believing and knowing the Word. And yet today we see this all around us. Think of the Christians today in the Middle East, who are being persecuted simply for being Christian. It seems this is exactly what Jesus means when he says the world will hate us if we believe and proclaim the word of God.

And yet such is what happens, isn’t it? The Middle East is the most dramatic example. Not only are Christians being killed an unprecedented numbers, perhaps higher than in all of Christian history, but much of the world seems silent about their plight. We do not hear much about from the leaders of the world, even our own president, saying much about the tremendous suffering and death of those being killed for their faith. And so, it is not simply that they are being hated for the word that they believe in, but their martyrdom is being committed and the response is silence.

And even in less dramatic circumstances, even in our own lives, we can be afraid to share what we really believe, because of the consequences of those who might hear what it is we have to say. It is not an easy time to be a person of faith. In some ways, this is a good thing. Now, don’t misunderstand me, I am not suggesting that we should go seeking martyrdom, but what I am suggesting is that when our faith leads to our being persecuted, often it is in those instances, and especially those instances, where our faith become strong.

Your word is truth.” We are sent into the world, to imitate the person of Jesus, who made the ultimate sacrifice which led to our salvation. By giving up his life on the cross, he who was completely innocent, we, though sinful, have the hope of salvation, when we can open our hearts our lives our souls to this loving presence of God.

And so today, if you experience difficulty, or sadness, or hateful remarks, remember this: Jesus sends us into this world. And we imitate Jesus, by being consecrated to the truth just as he was. We too will have a share in the life-giving outpouring of his love, which we can share with those who most desperately need to hear it.

Homily for Saturday, May 9, 2015

Readings for Today

Do you think you are greater than Jesus? This seems like a question that has an obvious answer, and of course, it does. Of course we are not greater than Jesus. It is easy to see this when we consider the magnificent works of Jesus. Healings, raising from the dead, miracles are obvious signs of the divinity of Jesus. But today’s gospel puts forth another type of comparison. Namely, those who follow Jesus will face persecution precisely because Jesus did. If we seek to imitate Jesus, we simply cannot expect to be treated differently.

Do you feel persecuted? Are there times when you find yourself reluctant to share what you truly believe for fear of a reaction of persecution? I would like to say that I do find there are times where I may not share my faith and beliefs as willingly as I might for fear that it might lead to a confrontation or a disagreement. Sometimes I am afraid that by sharing faith I might rejected by another person.

Of course, at the same time, we need not be picking a fight or looking for a disagreement. But at the right time, we have to understand there will be times when we will called to be courageous, acting in a way where we might have to confront error and hardship. There will be times when we will not be popular, where people make speak ill of us, where our example of loving God and neighbor could lead to persecution and rejection.

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Homily for Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Readings for Today

It can be easy to become discouraged. Every day it seems we hear of bad news occurring in our area and around the world. Each day it seems people we love, or even ourselves, can discover we have some really awful disease. Sometimes we are treated badly by others. Also, there are times when our own actions, our own sinfulness can cause discouragement as well.

The discouragement felt by disciples of Paul arises because he is being persecuted. He has been stoned, left for dead, and it is no wonder those who had heard him speak and had come to believe in Jesus became discouraged. If such a thing could happen to Paul, the eloquent speaker, it could also happen to them.

It becomes important then for us to remember the power that can arise when we receive encouragement. At the root meaning of this word is heart. And contained in this word is the concept of courage. One could say, then, that encouragement involve strengthening the heart. The heart is associated not just as the organ that pumps blood, but also represents our very soul, that place that is nearest to the very core and center of what makes us us.

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