Archbishop of Los Angeles visits Fuller campus for chapel service and immigration forum
Cardinal Mahony with Fuller President Richard Mouw
See links at right for full video of the Cardinal's talk.
“Immigration, God’s Law, and the Common Good” was the focus of a message delivered by Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Los Angeles, at an all-seminary chapel service held Wednesday, May 13, at Fuller’s Pasadena campus. The service was followed by an Open Forum on Immigration, offering a time for further discussion with the Cardinal.
“I speak as one whose perspective has been shaped by the gospel of Jesus Christ,” said Cardinal Mahony in opening his talk, and as one whose perspective is also shaped “by the fact that I live in one of the most diverse metropolises in the country—with so many who live on the margins of society, longing to be set free.” He looks at questions about undocumented immigrants and the economy from a theological perspective, he explained, noting that the word “economy” has its roots in the Greek word oikonomia, or “arrangement of a household.” The focus there is not primarily financial, he said, but “refers to the way God’s household is ordered and administered”—which should be one, he said, in which holiness, truth, justice, love, and peace prevail.
We must ask, then, “Who belongs in this household? Is God’s good household roomy enough for all?” The Cardinal offered multiple biblical references to address these questions, from God’s call to Abraham to move to a new land, to Jesus’s command that we welcome the stranger in our midst. “The movement to places of hope is woven into the very fabric of the biblical story,” Cardinal Mahony declared. “The Scriptures teach us to have unrelenting compassion, even in a difficult economic time, for those seeking new hope for their lives.”
Recognizing that this is a challenging era for many—“the Church stands in solidarity with those struggling to stay afloat during these hard economic times,” he said—Cardinal Mahony also insisted that, as Christians, “no prior commitments can overrule or trump this compassion we must have for the alien, the stranger.”
The Cardinal went on to outline some of the practical and policymaking implications he sees in this call. “At what point is the common good adversely impacted by making room at the table?” he asked. Undocumented workers do contribute in important ways to the workforce and overall economy, he claimed, noting that a full 40 percent of undocumented immigrants today actually entered the U.S. legally, but have overstayed their visas. “The U.S. and Mexico are benefitting from the labor and remittances of these workers, without offering them the protection of law,” he stated—a scenario that plays out between nations all over the world. “As a matter of moral principle, we cannot have it both ways.”
Comprehensive immigration reform is needed, said the Cardinal, and proposed, among other policies, an “earned path to citizenship” for undocumented migrants that would include payment of a fine, six or more years of work, and a requirement of English proficiency. Above all, he stressed, immigration policy “must not undermine basic human dignity.”
“To restore order to God’s household, we must ensure a place for all at the table,” Cardinal Mahony concluded. “It may require that we sit closer at the table, or share more of what’s on our plate . . . It happens in all families!” This is our calling as God’s people, he emphasized, because ultimately, “The deepest desire, the highest aspiration, the enduring hope of every person is to breathe free.”
The forum following the chapel service featured Juan Martínez, assistant dean for the Hispanic Church Studies Department and associate professor of Hispanic studies and pastoral leadership, offering a response to Cardinal Mahony’s talk. The Cardinal then responded to questions on immigration issues from Fuller students.