With statewide and local elections approaching, please remember to engage in productive civil discourse in your parish, personal writings and in social media, including memes.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB)’s guidelines state:
“Parishes and other IRS-designated section 501(c)(3) church organizations are prohibited from participating in political campaign activity. Thus, certain political activities that are entirely appropriate for individuals may not be undertaken by church organizations or their representatives.”
“Do not endorse or oppose candidates, political parties, or groups of candidates, or take any action that reasonably could be construed as endorsement or opposition.”
That is, neither the Church nor anyone speaking on behalf of the Catholic Church or its agencies may support or oppose any candidate or political party, but the Church may address the moral aspect of political issues.
The following Do’s and Don’ts should be followed in all parishes within the Archdiocese of Atlanta:
- Address the moral and human dimensions of public issues.
- Share church teaching on human life, human rights, justice and peace.
- Allow distribution only of political literature that is approved and issued by the USCCB.
- Endorse or oppose candidates for political office.
- Allow distribution of political literature on parish property or under church auspices.
- Arrange for groups to work for a candidate for public office.
- Invite only selected candidates to address your church-sponsored group.
- Distribute a biased candidate survey.
For more information, please visit the USCCB website.
2018 Georgia General Assembly Session Ended on March 29. When the 2018 legislative session ended, several anti-immigrant bills “died” without action and will not become law. SB 452 would have mandated various courts and state and local law enforcement agencies identify persons in their custody who are not lawfully present, detain them and provide information to federal immigration officials. Currently, some of the prescribed actions are authorized but not required. Senate Resolution 587 sponsored by Senator Josh McKoon (R-Columbus) and SR 613 sponsored by Senator David Shafer both proposed a constitutional amendment to make English the official language of Georgia for all government documents, including driver license applications and tests. SB 161 proposed a separately designed driver license for non-citizens to quickly identify immigrants and raise suspicions about anyone with the license, whether they are documented or not. The Georgia Catholic Conference opposed all these bills.
National Guard Deployed to the Southern Border? As the Administration proposed the National Guard to “defend” the border between the United States and Mexico, Bishop Mark Seitz of El Paso succinctly summed up the situation and Christian response, including a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Immigration Law Is Complex. Do not trust just anyone when you have immigration law questions. Refer to protection information and unauthorized practice of immigration law on the Catholic Legal Immigration Network website.
ICYMI – Connect on Social Media. If you are on Twitter and want up to date information about immigration developments from the Catholic perspective, please follow accounts sponsored by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) – including the Justice for Immigrants campaign, Migration and Refugee Services, and Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC).
Important – ICYMI – Protect Archdiocesan Ministries! Please carefully read and heed Archbishop Gregory’s letter to the faithful of the Archdiocese regarding House Bill 605, now pending in the Georgia General Assembly. If it passes, it can affect our services to immigrants as well as others in need.
The Journey Continues. Please remember Share the Journey, the two year campaign initiated by Pope Francis, to draw world-wide attention to our migrating sisters and brothers. It is not too late to join the journey! Even the Lenten toolkit is still available. Chose whatever your parish or community feels called to do.
Pray the Stations of the Cross. Please pray the Stations of the Cross as we approach Holy Week, as well as written meditations related to human trafficking. Jesus began earthly life as a refugee from oppression and His passion and death brought Him to the peripheries of society.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) Re-Interviews. USCIS is sending refugees notices to appear for interviews. If you or someone you know receives a notice, do not ignore it. Seek the advice of a qualified immigration attorney. Read this information sheet to prepare for the interview.
Protect Archdiocesan Ministries! Please carefully read and heed Archbishop Gregory’s letter to the faithful of the Archdiocese of Atlanta regarding House Bill 605 now pending in the Georgia General Assembly. If it passes, it can affect our services to immigrants and others in need.
Congratulations to Sister Norma Pimentel! The University of Notre Dame announced that Sister Norma Pimentel will be awarded the prestigious Laetare Medal for her work with migrants. Pope Francis commended her by name in conjunction with his pilgrimage to the United State in 2015.
Important Information for Burmese Refugees. If you are a Burmese refugee or work with one and have received a strange letter that appears to be from the government, please click here to read an update from the Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC).
National Catholic Call Congress for Dreamers Day. On February 26, over 48,000 Catholics called their congress representatives and senators to support Dreamers. If you did not get a chance to do it, there is still time to have your voice heard.
The Border is a Place for Encounter, Not a Place for Violence. As bishop of the border city of El Paso, Bishop Mark Seitz continued his advocacy work for Dreamers in Washington last week.
National Catholic Call Congress For Dreamers Day. Responding to a call from Catholic bishops across the country, many Catholics called Congress members on February 26 asking them to protect Dreamers from deportation, to provide them a path to citizenship, and to avoid any damage to existing protections for families and unaccompanied minors in the process. You can still call members of Congress. Find more information here.
Catholic Sisters, Priests and Other Leaders Demonstrate For Dreamers In Washington. A group of sisters, priests and others demonstrated and engaged in civil disobedience to call attention to the plight of DACA recipients as the Administration’s March 5 deadline. Several sisters and priests were arrested.
Catholic Cardinals Speak on Immigrants. Cardinal Joseph Tobin, archbishop of Newark, NJ, criticizing the lack of civility in public discourse, saying “we are witnessing an escalating display of hatred for undocumented individuals and families. We have stopped seeing the faces of our immigrant brothers and sisters, and the stories behind their faces.” “There’s a little bit of migrant in everyone, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila, Philippines, said during a U.S. visit. The story of human history is one based on people moving around the planet in search of a better life, and it is humanity’s responsibility – and the Church’s – to welcome travelers and meet their needs.”
ICYMI — Combine Lenten Practice With Support For Immigrant Neighbors. Still trying to decide what to do for Lent and affect your life and the lives of others? CLINIC has s series of digital devotions linking Scripture, prayer and human stories. Everyone can participate.
A Nation of Immigrants. USCIS has changed its mission statement to delete the phrase “a nation of immigrants” but that does not change the reality of America.
Citizenship Clinic. Do you or someone you know qualify for naturalized citizenship? Check out the Free Citizenship Clinic on February 24.
Comprehensive Program on Immigration Legal Issues. Are you interested in an in depth program on legal issues related to immigration? Early bird reduced pricing is available for the annual Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC) Convening in Tucson, AZ, May 30 – June 1, 2018.
Combine Lenten Practice With Support For Immigrant Neighbors. Still trying to decide what to do for Lent to affect your life and the lives of others? CLINIC has s series of digital devotions linking Scripture, prayer and human stories. Everyone can participate.
It is Not About a Chain; It is About Families. Despite the rhetoric from Washington, family unification is at the heart of an immigration policy that will build America. Read a message from Most Reverend José Gomez, Archbishop of Los Angeles and Vice President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
Share the Journey. Pope Francis initiated the Share the Journey campaign last September, but it not too late to participate. Learn how to get involved online.
ICYMI — Know Your Rights. With all the reports of raids and deportations, it is important that everyone know their legal rights. See resources on the CLINIC website.
Know Your Rights. With all the reports of raids and deportations, it is important to know your legal rights. Resources are available on the Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC) website.
Did You Miss the Feast of St. Josephine Bakhita? St. Josephine Bakhita was born in Sudan and trafficked as a slave multiple times until she ended up in Italy. Later, she gained her freedom and became a religious sister. She was canonized in 2000. Learn more about human trafficking and suggestions for action by visiting the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Migration and Refugee Service website.
Catholic Social Ministry Gathering and Immigration. Over 500 people attended the 2018 Catholic Social Ministry Gathering (CSMG) in Washington, DC, including representatives from Georgia. Service to immigrant populations was the theme of the first day, headlined by a keynote address from Auxiliary Bishop Eusebio Elizondo of Seattle and a video address from Pope Francis. Click here for more information.
Another Priest is Relying on DACA. Fr. Felipe González of the Diocese of St. Petersburg, Florida came to the United State with his parents at age 11. He was ordained in 2016 because he could rely on DACA status, but may now be threatened with deportation if Congress does not adopt legislation to help.
USCCB Supports Family Based Immigration Policies. “Chain migration” has become a derogatory description for the United States’ longstanding policy of supporting unification of migrating families. Most Reverend Joe S. Vásquez, Bishop of Austin and Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, welcomed the Administration’s recent proposal to include a path to citizenship for Dreamers, but was deeply troubled by proposed cuts to family immigration and elimination of protections to unaccompanied children. He quoted Pope Francis, “the family is the foundation of co-existence and a remedy against social fragmentation.” Click here to see this explanatory article from America magazine. It is important to get out the true story of immigration. Please share this information from the Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC) about how to counter anti-immigrant narratives.
Haitians With Temporary Protected Status Are in Legal Limbo. The Administration is terminating temporary protected status (TPS) for Haitians, but their country is still devastated. Read the interview with Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami, an advocate for Haitian people.
Syrians Receive Partial Extension of Temporary Protected Status. Open warfare continues in Syria. Syrians living in the United States have been given temporary protected status, but that protection must continue. See the report from CLINIC.
ICYMI — What Do Those With Temporary Protected Status Need to Know? Whether you are inquiring for yourself or someone you know, CLINIC provides comprehensive information online. Nonetheless, in such an important and complex area, advice from competent immigration legal counsel is essential.
DACA and the Federal Government Shutdown. The federal government shutdown ended after three days, but the issues related to immigration, especially DACA, remain for future resolution. Please pay attention to the media as events evolve, particularly if you or your fellow parishioners are personally affected by proposed legislative activity.
Syrians Need Extension of Temporary Protected Status (TPS). Open warfare continues in Syria. Syrians living in the United States have been given temporary protected status, but it must continue. Read the report from Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC).
What Do Those With Temporary Protected Status Need To Know? Whether you are inquiring for yourself or someone you know, CLINIC provides comprehensive information on their website. Nonetheless, in such an important and complex area, advice from competent immigration legal counsel is essential.
How To Advocate For TPS. Visit the CLINIC website for information related to temporary protected status. Advocacy points for parish leaders and a quick guide are available.
Father Rey Pineda – DACA Recipient. He is one of us and one with us. Father Rey Pineda, parochial vicar at the Cathedral of Christ the King, has been the subject of several articles as a recipient of immigration protection under the Deferred Action Childhood Arrival (DACA) program. See recent articles from the AJC and Washington Post.
ICYMI – National Migration Week is Over, But Needs Remain. National
Migration Week was January 7 to 14, but we still need to share the journeys of
others. Pope Francis initiated the “Share the Journey” campaign as a two-year
program. Stay current with the issues and find ways to participate. Information on
National Migration Week is still available online.
DACA Renewals Are Now Being Accepted! The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is now accepting applications for renewal of DACA registration, but we do not know for how long. Although the Trump Administration attempted to close down the DACA program, the federal district court issued an order requiring DHS to continue processing applications. Click here for more information from the National Immigration Law Center.
Catholic Leaders Speak Out for Countries Who Were Disparaged. Catholic leaders continue to stand up for the dignity of all people in the light of the Gospel. In his homily for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, Pope Francis said, “For the stranger, the migrant, the refugee, the asylum seeker and the displaced person, every door in a new land is also an opportunity encounter Jesus.”
Among many others, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops emphasized the humanity of people, speaking in context of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday; Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston wrote of the continuing need for civil discourse and respect for immigrants and refugees; and Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami continues to advocate for a path to residency and citizenship.