April 27, 2007

May 1 march seeks to educate about justice for immigrants

By Mary Ann Wyand

On May 1, the feast of St. Joseph the Worker and also Labor Day in many countries, Hispanics and representatives of Catholic and Protestant Churches will peacefully march in downtown Indianapolis then gather for a rally at Monument Circle to educate people about justice for undocumented immigrants.

The march begins at 6 p.m. at St. Mary Church, 317 N. New Jersey St., then proceeds west on Vermont Street to Alabama Street, south to Ohio Street, west to Capitol Avenue, south to Market Street and east to Monument Circle.

Five speakers will discuss immigration rights and abuses experienced by undocumented immigrants during a short bilingual rally at Monument Circle, which begins about 7:15 p.m.

According to government estimates, about 12 million undocumented immigrants live and work in the U.S.

Franciscan Father Tom Fox, a Hispanic ministry assistant in the archdiocese, said the rally is intended to inform people about human rights, justice issues and legislative concerns related to immigration laws.

Father Tom represented the Archdiocese of Indianapolis at the “Justice for Immigrants: A Journey of Hope” national convocation on April 17-19 in Washington, D.C., which was organized to offer hope and promote justice issues.

“Undocumented immigrants are not criminals,” Father Tom said, “and should not be treated as criminals.”

He said convocation participants discussed the reality that some immigrants living in this country may not have documents, but they have family and friends here and they work hard in jobs that are undesirable for many American workers.

Indiana’s five Catholic bishops recently released a pastoral statement titled “I Was a Stranger and You Welcomed Me: Meeting Christ in New Neighbors.”

In their statement, Indiana’s bishops affirmed the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ campaign for immigration reform and Pope Benedict XVI’s first encyclical, “Deus Caritas Est,” which means “God Is Love.”

Indiana’s bishops emphasize the U.S. bishops’ position that:

  • Persons have the right to find opportunities in their homeland.
  • Persons have the right to migrate to support themselves and their families.
  • Sovereign nations have the right to control their borders.
  • Refugees and asylum seekers should be afforded protection.
  • The human dignity and human rights of undocumented immigrants should be respected.

“The Catholic Church, especially in the United States, is an immigrant Church, a pilgrim people on a journey of faith, hope and love,” Indiana’s bishops explain in their statement. “We are fellow travelers on the way to our heavenly home, the kingdom of God. As members of Christ’s body, the Church, we are an exceptionally diverse group of people who are called to unity in Christ. … Unity in diversity is our vision.” †

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