Pope Francis calls for church with ‘Amazonian and indigenous’ face

By Barbara J. Fraser
PUERTO MALDONADO, Peru – Pope Francis called on indigenous people of the Amazon to work with missionaries and bishops to shape a church with an “Amazonian and indigenous” face.
The pope pledged the church’s “whole-hearted option for the defense of life, the defense of the earth and the defense of cultures” and called his audience to work together toward the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon, which he has called for 2019.
“The native Amazonian peoples have probably never been so threatened on their own lands as they are at present,” Pope Francis said. “Amazonia is not only a reserve of biodiversity, but also a cultural reserve that must be preserved in the face of the new forms of colonialism.”
He also called for a change in the consumer culture that extracts resources from the Amazon without regard for the people who live there, and he had harsh words for officials who consider indigenous people an obstacle to development.
“Your lives cry out against a style of life that is oblivious to its own real cost,” the pope told the audience of some 2,500 indigenous people from Peru, Brazil and Bolivia.
Upon his arrival in this Amazonian town, the pope was welcomed by children who chanted, “Pope Francis is Amazonian now.” Once in Madre de Dios stadium, dancers in feathered headdresses accompanied him as he greeted the crowd.
Members of various indigenous peoples presented the pope with gifts that reflected their culture, including a basket, painting, book and woven stole. The pope left the stadium wearing a feathered headdress and strings of beads typically worn by community chiefs, presented to him by Santiago Manuin Valera, an Awajun leader from northern Peru.
The pope said he had come to listen to the people of this Amazonian region, which is rich in natural resources and indigenous cultures but increasingly devastated by illegal mining, deforestation and social problems.
A Harakbut woman and man and an Awajun woman described the threats their peoples face from outsiders who take timber and other resources from their lands, as well as their fear that their cultures could disappear and their efforts to keep those cultures alive
The pope echoed their concerns, listing oil and gas, mining, logging, industrial agriculture and even conservation programs as activities that do not take indigenous peoples into account, but “strangle” them and force young people to migrate because of a lack of alternatives.
“We have to break with the historical paradigm that views Amazonia as an inexhaustible source of supplies for other countries without concern for its inhabitants,” he said.
The pope praised the church’s work among native peoples in the Amazon, although he acknowledged errors. In many parts of the Amazon, missionaries started the first schools for indigenous children.
While noting that education and building schools is the government’s job, Pope Francis urged the Amazonian bishops to continue to encourage intercultural and bilingual education in schools, universities and teacher training programs.
Echoing the Harakbut speakers who had greeted him, he emphasized that education for native people must “build bridges and create a culture of encounter,” in a way that “respects and integrates their ancestral wisdom as a treasure belonging to the whole nation.”
The pope praised young indigenous people who are “working to reinterpret the history of their peoples from their own perspective,” as well as those who “show the world your worldview and your cultural richness” through art, music, crafts and literature.
“Much has been written and spoken about you,” he said. “It is good that you are now the ones to define yourselves and show us your identity. We need to listen to you.”
The pope urged his listeners, many of whom are pastoral agents in remote rural communities and poor urban areas, not to let their people’s Catholic faith be uprooted. Each culture “enriches the church by showing a new aspect of Christ’s face,” he said.
Pope Francis encouraged them to draw on the wisdom of their peoples, especially elders, to counter the pressures they face and to dialogue with missionaries and bishops.
“We need the native peoples to shape the culture of the local churches in Amazonia,” he said.

National Migration Week tells story of many journeys, one family

By Maureen Smith
How can the church minister to and be strengthened by a new wave of immigrants from South and Central America? According to Dr. Hossfman Ospino, an associate professor of Hispanic ministry and religious education at Boston College, both the nation and the church have done it before and will be able to do it again. Ospino came to the Diocese of Jackson to lead and participate in a series of workshops and encounters in deanery five as part of National Migration Week, Jan. 7-13.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has been organizing a theme and providing educational materials for National Migration Week for almost 50 years as an opportunity for the Church to reflect on the circumstances confronting migrants, including immigrants, refugees, children, and victims and survivors of human trafficking.
“The theme of National Migration Week 2018 was ‘Many Journeys, One Family.’ In this context, Dr. Ospino gave a conference to pastors, Lay Ecclesial Ministers, leaders from different parishes and diocesan offices about the history of migration and how this phenomenon is re-defining the Catholicism in the 21st century,” explained Danna Johnson, coordinator of Hispanic Ministry for Pontotoc St. Christopher and head of the Catholic Charities office in Vardaman. “This was a learning experience and an opportunity to re-affirm our missionary spirit as one church here in this diocese,” she added.
In a recent article in America Magazine, Ospino compared the current influx of immigrants to when European Catholics poured into the States. Father Tim Murphy, pastor of Tupelo St. James Parish said he was encouraged by what he heard. “It’s challenging, but it’s possible. We have done this before, we have met the needs of other immigrant groups and we can do it again now,” he said. For both the European immigrants and the Hispanic immigrants, the church is at the center of their cultural experience so their presence is an opportunity to strengthen the church overall.
Father Murphy said Ospino’s statistics and suggestions “really affirm a lot of what we have been doing in this mission diocese.”
Father Murphy said beyond just research, Ospino brings a practical eye to his presentations. “He comes from a hands-on background. He did mission work and pastoral work and retreat work from the time he was 16-years old.”
Amelia McGowan, who heads the Catholic Charities Migrant Support Services, presented a video called “The Cost of Deportation.” The video is meant to raise awareness about what is happening in communities right here and help people comprehend the importance of knowing their rights. She also offered a free legal clinic to families who might have questions about their particular immigration status.
“Many Hispanic families from deanery five attended a unique presentation by Father Octavio Escobar and Ospino. Both presenters were able to challenge our roles as baptized, as Christians, and as immigrant Catholics in our communities,” Johnson said. “Father Octavio based his presentation on the article Dr. Ospino wrote in America Magazine,” she added.
On Friday, despite plummeting temperatures and ice and sleet pressing into the area, Ospino visited Vardaman. While there, he toured a sweet potato packing plant and took advantage of an opportunity to listen to a diverse group of local citizens and the advisory board of Northeast office of Catholic Charities, Inc. The group was able to share the challenges and opportunities all face in attending the different needs in this rural area of Mississippi. “He told me later this rural experience was new to him so the visit to Vardaman was mutually beneficial,” said Father Murphy.
“The outcome of this week was to have an opportunity to come together, as one family, to share, learn, and celebrate the Culture of Encounter,” said Johnson. “We believe that Amelia, Father Octavio, and Ospino made that possible. We all are blessed beyond measure with their presence among us,” she added.
“What we heard really ties in with the (Diocesan) Pastoral Plan to embrace diversity and inspire disciples,” said Father Murphy. He said he hopes he can host Ospino in Mississippi again at a later date.
To learn more about National Migration Week, go to https://www.sharejourney.org

The group eats lunch.

La Sagrada Familia nos recuerda la difícil situación de los migrantes

Por Obispo Joseph Kopacz
Con la fiesta de la Epifanía celebramos la culminación de la temporada navideña, finalizando oficialmente con el bautismo del Señor el lunes pasado. Estamos bien entrado en el nuevo año, pero esta semana pasada fue notable como la Semana Nacional de Migración designada por los Obispos Católicos Estadounidenses durante más de 25 años. ¿Por qué existe esa conmemoración única en esta época del año? Sigue leyendo por favor.
A lo largo de la temporada de Navidad celebramos, y ojalá hayan experimentado, la gloria de Dios que resplandece en el rostro de Jesucristo. Si es así, hemos seguido una larga línea de casi dos mil años, a la luz de la Encarnación. Comenzando con el anuncio de los ángeles, abrazado con entusiasmo y alegría por los pastores, y resueltamente, buscado por los Magos, los relatos de la Infancia sentaron las bases para todos los discípulos en beneficio de las generaciones venideras hasta el momento presente. San Pablo en la segunda carta a los Corintios, describió esta experiencia para todos los creyentes en la Palabra hecha carne. “Dios ha diseñado de tal manera que su luz brilla en nuestros corazones para darnos la luz de conocer su gloria revelada en la faz de Jesucristo” (2Cor 4,6)
En la historia de la salvación, que se celebra en los relatos de la infancia, la alegría que irrumpe del encuentro con Jesucristo es palpable e irresistible. Cuando alguien encuentra la misericordia de Dios, nosotros, como mujeres y hombres, descubrimos o redescubrimos la esperanza para nuestra vida, alimento para nuestros corazones, mentes y almas. A su vez, esta nueva vida de la salvación está destinada a ser difundida a lo largo y a lo ancho en crecientes círculos por todos los tiempos en comunidades de fe, de esperanza y de amor, de justicia, de paz y de servicio en nuestros hogares y en nuestro mundo.
Pero la historia de la Natividad en la vida de María y de José, también revela la valentía necesaria para permanecer en el sendero de la vida que nos dirige a Dios en este mundo en el rostro de circunstancias difíciles. Más allá de sentimentalismo y observanciones piadosas, tenemos una historia paradigma para todas las familias y personas que se han visto obligadas a abandonar sus casas y hogares. La Virgen María y San José tuvieron que viajar durante los días finales de su embarazo. Cuando llegaron a Belén recibieron un poco de ayuda, y aunque no fue mucha, fue importante. Como extranjeros, no tenian un lugar para quedarse, y el tiempo para el nacimiento del Señor estaba cercano. No fue la intención de San Lucas y Mateo extenderse en las preocupaciones humanas de la Sagrada Familia, pero podemos imaginarnos que las parteras, que todavía están en servicio en nuestro tiempo para la mayoría de los nacimientos en el mundo, ciertamente una estuvo presente para ayudar a María en el parto y recoger a Jose cuando se desplomó sobre la paja. Después de un arduo viaje, el hambre y la sed tenían que pesar sobre estos extranjeros procedentes del resto del mundo, y estamos agradecidos por las personas anónimas que les proporcionaron alimento para el espíritu, mente y cuerpo. Y en esta fiesta de la Epifanía, nos enteramos de que la estrella condujo a los Magos hacia la casa donde María y el niño estaban hospedados. Gracias a la hospitalidad y generosidad de las personas de esa localidad, la Sagrada Familia tuvo un lugar donde estar.
De extranjeros a refugiados, la historia continúa. Tan pronto como los tres Reyes Magos partieron por otro camino, un cambió para siempre, María, José y el niño Jesús tuvieron que huir para salvar sus vidas. Sabemos de la crueldad de Herodes y la matanza de los inocentes, incluyendo a su propio hijo, en su codicia por conservar su poder. Esta históricamente documentado que cuando César Augusto, el emperador que había comenzado todo en movimiento con su mandato del censo, recibió la noticia de la matanza ordenada por Herodes dijo con asombro a tal brutalidad que era mejor ser uno de los cerdos de Herodes (porque los judíos no comen cerdo) a uno de sus hijos.
En ese momento, Jesús, María y José eran refugiados que huyeron a Egipto, donde permanecieron durante dos o tres años. Allí recibieron la hospitalidad de un círculo de personas desconocidas que les permitio vivir, trabajar y crecer en familia. Por último, regresaron a Nazaret, en el norte de Israel, porque el hijo de Herodes era el rey, y la amenaza de muerte era real.
Es evidente que a principios de enero es un momento ideal para estar conscientes de la situación de casi 65 millones de personas en nuestro mundo de hoy, que como la Sagrada Familia se han visto obligados a migrar y/o huir de su tierra y su hogar por una variedad de razones.
El tema para este año de la Semana Nacional de Migración está tomado de una de las expresiones del Papa Francisco, “Crear una cultura de encuentro”. Como los pastores y los Magos, una vez que hemos encontrado a Jesucristo nuestra vida nunca es la misma. Los objetivos de esta semana han permanecido inalterados durante más de 25 dijo con asombro a tal brutalidad, que lo mejor era ser uno de los cerdos de Herodes (porque los judíos no comen cerdo) a uno de sus hijos. En ese momento, Jesús, María y José eran refugiados que huyeron a Egipto, donde permanecieron durante dos o tres años. Aquí reciben la hospitalidad de un círculo de personas desconocidas que les permita vivir, trabajar y madurar como familia. Por último, regresan a Nazaret, en el norte de Israel, porque el hijo de Herodes era el rey, y la amenaza de la muerte era real.
Es evidente que a principios de enero es un momento ideal para crecer en la conciencia de la situación de casi 65 millones en nuestro mundo de hoy, que como la Sagrada Familia se han visto obligados a migrar y/o huir de la tierra y el hogar para una variedad de razones. El tema para este año de la Semana Nacional de Migración está tomado de uno de Papa Francisco’ expresiones de referencia, para crear una cultura de encuentro. Como los pastores y los Magos, una vez que nos hemos encontrado a Jesucristo nuestras vidas nunca son los mismos. Los objetivos de esta semana han permanecido inalterados durante más de 25 años: educar sobre la compleja realidad de la migración, que incluye a los migrantes, los inmigrantes, los refugiados y las víctimas del tráfico de seres humanos, para fomentar una cultura de encuentro en la que las comunidades católicas abren sus corazones y sus manos para darle la bienvenida a los recién llegados, no como extranjeros, sino como miembros del Cuerpo de Cristo, para dar gracias por los muchos en nuestra sociedad que son como aquellos que ayudaron a la Sagrada Familia.
En mis viajes alrededor de la diócesis, y en mi trabajo en Caridades Catolicas, me siento inspirado al ver el desarrollo de los objetivos de la Semana Nacional de Migración. Personas en la iglesia y en todo el estado están sirviendo a las comunidades de migrantes que están aquí legalmente para recoger y procesar los cultivos de los que estamos acostumbrados a disfrutar. Muchos están trabajando para apoyar a quienes han sido víctimas de la trata de personas cuyas historias claman al cielo por justicia y compasión. Los inmigrantes, documentados e indocumentados, están contribuyendo significativamente al bienestar económico y social de nuestro estado y de las comunidades locales, incluyendo a nuestras parroquias en toda la diócesis.
Desde las secuelas de la guerra de Vietnam en los años 70’s, Caridades Católicas, en colaboración con una red de profesionales y personas compasivas en nuestro estado, ha estado acogiendo y sirviendo a menores refugiados no acompañados provenientes de todo el mundo. Estos jóvenes han prosperado, y ahora son ciudadanos productivos de nuestro país.
Dejando de lado la retórica de la reciente campaña presidencial y elección, y la inacción y la insensibilidad de todos los Congresos y presidentes durante décadas, hay muchos en nuestro estado y en nuestro país que están encontrando, acompañando, y se hacen amigos de aquellos que han llegado a nuestras puertas. La Semana Nacional de la Migración es una semana de 52 pero viene a principios del Nuevo año y oramos para que sus nobles objetivos siembren semillas y den frutos a lo largo del año.
A medida que progresa el nuevo año estaremos implementando la renovada Misión, Visión y las prioridades pastorales de la diócesis. En armonía con los objetivos de la Semana Nacional de Migración, os dejo con nuestra visión diocesanas. Para servir a otros _- para abrazar la diversidad – para inspirar el discipulado. Que Dios, que ha comenzado en nosotros la buena obra, la lleve a plenitud en el día de Cristo Jesús.

Holy family reminds us of migrants’ plight

By Bishop Joseph Kopacz
With the Feast of the Epiphany we celebrated the culmination of the Christmas season, ending officially with the Baptism of the Lord this past Monday. We are well into the new year, but this past week has been noteworthy as the National Migration Week – designated such by the American Catholic Bishops for more than 25 years. Why is there such a unique commemoration at this time of year? Read on, please.
Throughout the Christmas season we celebrated, and hopefully experienced, the glory of God shining on the face of Jesus Christ. If so, we have followed in a long line for nearly two thousand years in the light of the Incarnation. Beginning with the announcement of the angels, embraced eagerly and joyfully by the shepherds, and resolutely sought by the Magi, the Infancy Narratives laid the foundation for all disciples in succeeding generations right up to the present moment. Saint Paul in his second letter to the Corinthians described this experience for all believers in the Word made flesh. “God designed it so that his light shines in our hearts in order to give us the light of knowing his glory revealed on the face of Jesus Christ.” (2Cor 4,6)
In the history of salvation that is celebrated in the Infancy Narratives the joy that breaks forth from an encounter with Jesus Christ is palpable and irresistible. When anyone encounters the mercy of God we, as women and men, discover or rediscover hope for our lives, nourishment for our hearts, minds, and souls. In turn this new life of salvation is intended to be diffused far and wide in ever increasing circles for all time in communities of faith, hope and love, of justice, peace and service in our homes and in our world.
But the story of the Nativity in the lives of Mary and Joseph also reveals the courage that is required to stay on the path of life that directs us to God in this world in the face of daunting circumstances. Beyond sentimentality and pious observances, we have a paradigm story for all families and individuals who are forced to abandon hearth and home. The Virgin Mother and Saint Joseph had to travel during the final days of her pregnancy. When they arrived in Bethlehem they received a little bit of help, and although not much, it was important. As strangers, they did not have a place to stay, and the time for the Lord’s birth was at hand. It was not the intention of Saint Luke and Matthew to dwell on the specific human concerns of the holy family, but we can imagine that midwives, who are still on hand in our time for the majority of births in our world, were certainly present to help Mary deliver, and to pick up Joseph when he collapsed on the straw.
After an arduous journey, hunger and thirst had to weigh heavily upon these strangers from elsewhere, and we are grateful for those nameless folks who provided nourishment for spirit, mind, and body. And on this feast of the Epiphany, we hear that the star led the Magi to the house were Mary and the child were lodging. Thanks to the hospitality and generosity of the locals, the holy family had a roof over their heads.
From strangers to refugees, the story continues. As soon as the three Kings departed by another route, forever changed, Mary and Joseph and the child Jesus had to flee for their lives. We know of the brutality of Herod and the slaughter of the innocents, including his own son in his lust to preserve his power. It is historically documented that when Cesar Augustus, the Emperor who had started it all in motion with his mandated census, received the news of this massacre ordered by Herod he said in amazement at such brutality, that it was better to be one of Herod’s pigs (because Jews did not eat pork) than one of his children. In that moment Jesus, Mary and Joseph were refugees who fled to Egypt where they remained for two or three years. There they received the hospitality of an unknown circle of people allowing them to live, work and mature as a family. Finally, they returned to Nazareth in northern Israel because Herod’s son was the king, and the threat of death was real.
It becomes clear that early January is an ideal time to grow in awareness at the plight of nearly 65 million in our world today who like the holy family have been forced to migrate and/or flee from hearth and home for a host of reasons. The theme for this year’s National Migration Week is taken from one of Pope Francis’ benchmark expressions, “To Create a Culture of Encounter.” Like the shepherds and the Magi, once we have encountered Jesus Christ our lives are never the same.
The goals for this week have remained the same for more than 25 years: to educate on the complex reality of migration which includes migrants, immigrants, refugees and victims of human trafficking, to encourage a culture of encounter in which Catholic communities open their hearts and hands to welcome the newcomers, not as strangers, but as members of the Body of Christ, to give thanks for the many in our society who are like those who helped the holy family.
In my travels around the diocese, and in my work at Catholic Charities, I am inspired to see the development of the sought after goals of the National Migration Week. People in the Church and throughout the state are serving the migrant communities who are here legally to pick and process the crops that we are accustomed to enjoy. Many are working to support those who have been victims of human trafficking whose stories cry out to heaven for justice and compassion.
Immigrants, documented and undocumented, are contributing significantly to the economic and social wellbeing of our State and local communities, including our parishes throughout the diocese. Catholic Charities since the aftermath of the Vietnam war in the late 70’s, in collaboration with a network of professional and compassionate people in our state, has been welcoming and serving unaccompanied refugee minors from around the world. These young people have thrived, and are now productive citizens of our country.
Putting aside the rhetoric of the recent presidential campaign and election, and the inaction and callousness of all Congresses and presidents for decades, there are many in our state and in our country who are encountering, accompanying, and befriending those who have arrived at our doorsteps. The National Migration Week is one week of 52 but it comes as the New Year dawns, and we pray that its noble goals will plant seeds and bear fruit throughout the year.
As the new year progresses we will be implementing the refreshed Mission, Vision, and Pastoral Priorities for the diocese. In harmony with the goals of the National Migration Week, I leave you with our diocesan Vision. To serve others — to embrace diversity — to inspire discipleship. May God who has begun the good work in us bring it to fulfillment on the day of Christ Jesus.

Bishops mention immigration policy in statement

By Catholic News Service
WASHINGTON (CNS) – Urging Americans to look at their families for stories of immigration, the president and vice president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops called attention to the hardships and contributions of immigrants to American society as the U.S. church prepared to observe National Migration Week.
Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston and Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles also said in a Jan. 6 statement that the week is “an opportunity to embrace the important work of continuing to secure the border, to welcome the stranger and serve the most vulnerable” as components of “a humane immigration policy.”
“This year, we are invited to create a culture of encounter where citizens old and new, alongside immigrants recent and long-standing, can share with one another their hopes for a better life,” said the statement marking the observance, which began 25 years ago as a way to reflect on how immigrants and refugees have contributed to the church. “Jesus, Mary and Joseph knew life as refugees, so let us also begin this encounter within our very own families.”
The prelates said migration is “an act of great hope” and those who are forced leave their homelands “suffer devastating family separation and most often face dire economic conditions to the point they cannot maintain a very basic level of living.”
War and persecution force refugees to leave their homelands, they said. They urged Catholics to seek stories from their families about how their parents, grandparents or great-grandparents left their homelands.

A woman holds a child's hand as they arrive for a rally in support of immigrants' rights in New York City Dec. 18, 2016. Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston and Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles called attention in a Jan. 6 statement the hardships and contributions of immigrants to American society as the U.S. church prepared to observe National Migration Week. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz) See USCCB-MIGRATION-HOPE Jan. 6, 2017.

A woman holds a child’s hand as they arrive for a rally in support of immigrants’ rights in New York City Dec. 18, 2016. Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston and Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles called attention in a Jan. 6 statement the hardships and contributions of immigrants to American society as the U.S. church prepared to observe National Migration Week. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz) See USCCB-MIGRATION-HOPE Jan. 6, 2017.

“Let us remind ourselves of those moments when our loved ones were forced to seek the mercy of others in a new land,” the statement said.
Though the United States has a great national heritage of welcoming the stranger, “fear and intolerance have occasionally tested that heritage,” the statement said, adding that “whether immigrating from Ireland, Italy or countless other countries, previous generations faced bigotry. Thanks be to God, our nation grew beyond those divisions to find strength in unity and inclusion.”

USCCB forms working group to monitor needs of migrants, refugees

By Catholic News Service
WASHINGTON (CNS) – The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is establishing a working group charged with developing spiritual, pastoral and policy advocacy support for immigrants and refugees.
Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, USCCB president, has named members of the working group, with the mandate of closely following developments related to immigrants and refugees in the United States. The USCCB Public Affairs Office announced formation of the group Dec. 16.
Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, USCCB vice president, will chair the group. Members include the chairmen of USCCB committees and subcommittees involved in immigration concerns: Bishop Joe S. Vasquez of Austin, Texas, Committee on Migration; Auxiliary Bishop Nelson J. Perez of Rockville Centre, New York, Subcommittee on Hispanic Affairs; Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Committee on Domestic Social Development; Bishop Joseph J. Tyson of Yakima, Washington, Subcommittee on Pastoral Care of Migrants; and Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, New Mexico, Committee on International Justice and Peace.
The groundwork for the working group was set during the bishops’ annual fall general assembly in Baltimore when several bishops suggested the conference closely monitor actions by the federal government that affect immigrants and refugees.
In announcing the working group, the Public Affairs Office said the bishops and USCCB staff will be ready to respond to any executive orders and legislation that the new Congress and President-elect Donald J. Trump may introduce.

People in Tijuana, Mexico, stand next to a wall separating Mexico and the United States Dec. 10. (CNS photo/Jorge Duenes, Reuters) See USCCB-WORKING-GROUP-MIGRANTS Dec. 16, 2016.

People in Tijuana, Mexico, stand next to a wall separating Mexico and the United States Dec. 10. (CNS photo/Jorge Duenes, Reuters) See USCCB-WORKING-GROUP-MIGRANTS Dec. 16, 2016.

The working group will inform the efforts of individual bishops in their pastoral responses to immigrants and refugees and recommend appropriate additional efforts as needed, such as the recent day of prayer on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe Dec. 12.
Meanwhile, Cardinal Blase J. Cupich of Chicago outlined some of the responsibilities of the working group in a column in the Dec. 11 issue of the Catholic New World, Chicago’s archdiocesan newspaper.
He said the group will look at what is being done pastorally in U.S. dioceses and will share best practices with bishops.
“Particular attention will be given to addressing the economic struggles, alienation, fear and exclusion many feel, along with the resistance to the church’s message regarding migrants and refugees,” Cardinal Cupich wrote. “Emphasis will be given to ways we can build bridges between various segments of society.”
The working group also will spearhead advocacy, building on existing USCCB efforts, and engage constructively with the incoming administration and Congress, the cardinal said.
The formation of the new entity, which Archbishop Gomez planned to convene weekly, “will send a message to those who live in fear that the Catholic bishops of the United States stand with them, pray with them, offer pastoral support and speak prophetically in defense of their human dignity,” Cardinal Cupich wrote.
He added that the Chicago Archdiocese will continue to “walk with all who, given our broken immigration system, live in the shadows. We will advocate for them as well as for refugees seeking a better life for their families.”
National Migration Week is Jan. 8-14.

Actividades de la Semana Nacional de Migración

Durante casi medio siglo, la Iglesia Católica en los Estados Unidos ha celebrado la national-migration-week-2017-poster-470x609-cSemana Nacional de Migración, la cual es una oportunidad para la Iglesia a reflexionar sobre las circunstancias que enfrentan los migrantes, incluidos los inmigrantes, los refugiados, los niños y las víctimas y sobrevivientes de la trata de personas.
El tema de la Semana Nacional de Migración 2017, que se celebrará del 8 al 14 de enero, enfoca la atención al llamado del Papa Francisco ‘para crear una cultura de encuentro, y que al hacerlo miremos más allá de nuestras propias necesidades y deseos y veamos las de los que nos rodean. En la Diócesis de Jackson, las actividades durante la semana son las siguientes:
El domingo 8 de enero se inaugurará  la Semana Nacional de Migración con la presentación del video “Los invicibles” en la Parroquia St. James en Tupelo de 2:30 – 4:30 p.m.  El martes 10 de enero se ofrecerá un taller de inmigración y consultas legales en la Parroquia St. Matthew en Ripley de 6 – 8 p.m. La abogada de inmigración, Amelia McGowan, directora del Centro de Soporte Migratorio de Caridades Católicas en Jackson facilitará el taller y las consultas.
El miércoles 11 de enero las parroquias dedicarán la celebración eucarística a la Semana Nacional de Migración. El jueves 12 de enero, de 6 – 8 p.m. en la Parroquia St. James en Corinth se ofrecerá nuevamente el taller de inmigración y consultas legales los cuales serán facilitados por Amelia McGowan.
Para el viernes 13 de enero están organizando una noche de expresiones culturales de 6 a 8 p.m. El lugar será anunciado previamente. Para información llamar al 662-682-9992.
La clasura de la semana de actividades se realizará el sábado 14 de enero con una presentación bilingüe en la Parroquia St. James en Tupelo de 3 a 4:30 p.m. por parte de la Hermana Guadalupana del Espíritu Santo, Gabriela Rámirez, de la oficina de Caridades Católicas de la Diócesis de Birmingham, Alabama.

National Migration Week – set for January – honors most vulnerable

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Children are the most vulnerable and hardest hit among the world’s migrants and require special protection, Pope Francis said.
“Children are the first among those to pay the heavy toll of emigration, almost always caused by violence, poverty, environmental conditions, as well as the negative aspects of globalization,” he said.
“The unrestrained competition for quick and easy profit brings with it the cultivation of perverse scourges such as child trafficking, the exploitation and abuse of minors and, generally, the depriving of rights intrinsic to childhood as sanctioned by the International Convention on the Rights of the Child,” he said.
The pope made the comments in a message on the theme of “Child Migrants, the Vulnerable and the Voiceless” for the World Day for Migrants and Refugees 2017; the text was released at the Vatican Oct. 13.

The World Day for Migrants and Refugees is observed Jan. 15. In the United States, National Migration Week will be celebrated Jan. 8-14. Click here for a listing of events celebrating the week in the Diocese of Jackson. migration week
In his message, the pope called for greater protection and integration of immigrants and refugees who are minors, especially those who are unaccompanied.
Minors are especially fragile, vulnerable and often invisible and voiceless – unable to claim or unaware of their rights and needs, he said.

A child sits on railroad tracks near a makeshift camp for migrants in late March at the Greek-Macedonian border near the village of in Idomeni, Greece. Children are the most vulnerable and hardest hit among the world's migrants and require special protection, Pope Francis said. (CNS photo/Armando Babani, EPA) See POPE-MIGRANTS-MESSAGE Oct. 13, 2016.

A child sits on railroad tracks near a makeshift camp for migrants in late March at the Greek-Macedonian border near the village of in Idomeni, Greece. Children are the most vulnerable and hardest hit among the world’s migrants and require special protection, Pope Francis said. (CNS photo/Armando Babani, EPA) See POPE-MIGRANTS-MESSAGE Oct. 13, 2016.

In particular, they have “the right to a healthy and secure family environment, where a child can grow under the guidance and example of a father and a mother; then there is the right and duty to receive adequate education, primarily in the family and also in the school,” the pope said. Unfortunately, “in many areas of the world, reading, writing and the most basic arithmetic is still the privilege of only a few.”
“Children, furthermore, have the right to recreation,” he added. “In a word, they have the right to be children.”
Christians must offer a dignified welcome to migrants because every human being is precious and “more important than things,” the pope said. “The worth of an institution is measured by the way it treats the life and dignity of human beings, particularly when they are vulnerable, as in the case of child migrants.”
He urged long-term solutions be found to tackle the root causes of migration such as war, human rights violations, corruption, poverty, environmental injustice and natural disasters.
In so many of these scenarios, Pope Francis said, “children are the first to suffer, at times suffering torture and other physical violence, in addition to moral and psychological aggression, which almost always leave indelible scars.”
Among the many factors that make migrants, especially children, more vulnerable, and need to be addressed are: poverty; limited access to the means to survive; “unrealistic expectations generated by the media”; poor literacy; and ignorance about the law, culture and language of host countries, he said.
“But the most powerful force driving the exploitation and abuse of children is demand. If more rigorous and effective action is not taken against those who profit from such abuse, we will not be able to stop the multiple forms of slavery where children are the victims,” he said.
Immigrant adults must cooperate more closely with host communities “for the good of their own children,” he said.
Countries need to work together and communities need to offer “authentic development” for all boys and girls “who are humanity’s hope,” he said.
Saying inadequate funding often “prevents the adoption of adequate policies aimed at assistance and inclusion,” the pope said that instead of programs that help children integrate or safely repatriate, “there is simply an attempt to curb the entrance of migrants, which in turn fosters illegal networks” or governments forcibly repatriate people without any concern “for their ‘best interests.'”
While nations have the right to control migration and protect and safeguard their citizens, Pope Francis said it must be done while carrying out “the duty to resolve and regularize the situation of child migrants,” and fully respecting the rights and needs of the children and their parents “for the good of the entire family.”
The pope praised the “generous service” of all those who work with minors who migrate, urging them to “not tire of courageously living the Gospel, which calls you to recognize and welcome the Lord Jesus among the smallest and most vulnerable.”
Speaking to reporters at the Vatican press office, Cardinal Antonio Maria Veglio, president of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers, said Christians cannot be xenophobic and they cannot refuse to help welcome immigrants.
While it is impossible for one country “to receive everyone,” he said, that doesn’t mean the problem will be solved by telling immigrants to leave or saying that no one may come.
“It’s a problem that needs to be solved, seek a solution,” he said.
Unfortunately, the cardinal said, people tend to be self-centered and bothered by the presence of “the other.” People prefer to keep to their “ivory tower, their gilded cage and do not want any disturbance” or threats to “the beautiful things we have.”
“This is egoism. This is not human or Christian,” he said.
(Editor’s note: look in the next Mississippi Catholic for a story about what Catholic Charities is doing here in the Diocese of Jackson for migrants, refugees and immigrants.)