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Church and State and the New “Serfs”

We have three men living at Casa Juan Diego’s Houses of Hospitality with such serious injuries that they shuffle instead of walk. We have three men in wheel chairs who don’t walk at all We have three men who have lost a leg and await protheses so they can walk and work. We have three men who are mentally ill and don’t know where to walk. We have three men on dialysis because their kidneys don’t work. We have three pregnant women who refused abortions but have complications that frighten us to death. We have people with AIDS and people with liver problems that make them look like they are pregnant. (In addition we have many immigrant men, women and children who aren’t sick in our houses.)

All of these sick and injured and others desperately seeking work to help their families are united by a common bond of rejection: they are homeless! They are rejected by society. All helping agencies who receive federal funds are forbidden to give food, lodging, or legal services to the poor immigrant or to give them even a glass of water. If they do, they run the risk of losing all funding.

Not only is it illegal to help “these people”—one who does so may be subject to arrest for harboring and transporting them.

All of “these people” have an invisible yellow arm band which says, “illegal alien.”

“Holy the Mother the State” says absolutely that they cannot be helped, and if you do help, you may be arrested.

Our Holy Bible and Holy Mother the church say you must help immigrants or run the risk of losing eternal salvation. Holy Mother Church has a dozen references from Scripture that speak beautifully about welcoming the alien.

One in four citizens of the United States is a baptized Catholic and many others are Protestant followers of the Nazarene. Even the president of our country belongs to the largest Protestant denomin-ation—strictly biblical people.

All are people of the Word, but apparently only of certain words. The book of Exodus states clearly that we must not oppress the immigrant (chapters 22 and 23). Deuteronomy (chapter 10) asks us to participate in the Lord’s work of caring for immigrants and strangers: “It is the Lord who loves the stranger and gives him food and clothing” and in chapter 24 reminds us, “You must not pervert justice in dealing with the stranger,” and in chapter 27: “A curse on him who tampers with the rights of the stranger.”

The New Testament affirms the Old, to say the least.

In his message for World Migration Day for the year 2000, Pope John Paul II for a “transformation of structures and a change of mentality, towards immigrants for the Great Jubilee” and denounced those countries that “despite having relative abundance, tend to tighten their borders, under pressure from a public opinion disturbed by the inconveniences that accompany the phenomenon of immigration.”

The Holy Father indicated that this attitude “amounts to tunnel vision” on the part of the developed world, which fails to see the “immigration of despair” that obliges many men and women without a future to abandon their country amidst a thousand dangers. Among the causes of migration the Pope mentioned “discrimination,” “irrational industrialization” and “galloping corruption” as trends which accelerate the desire to leave one’s native country.

His message for World Migration Day called upon governments of the world to offer general amnesty to all undocumented aliens in the year 2000, as a concrete way of celebrating the ancient custom of the Jubilee, whereby all debts are cancelled, wealth is redistributed to benefit the poor, slaves are freed, and relationships are healed.

The Pope called for “rapid action” to correct the economic tendencies which allow powerful individuals to manipulate the marketplaces of less developed countries. He emphasized that one clearly negative factor in the process of economic globalization is “the system of production based on the logic of exploitation of workers.” He expressed his fears that workers in the least developed countries could be “reduced to the condition of “new serfs of the world.”

Churchgoers in the United States are often unaware that the Second Vatican Council in the document “Gaudium et spes” and John Paul II’s encyclicals, “Veritatis Splendor” and “Evangelium Vitae” rank forced deportations with rape, abortion, and murder.

As we receive the former serfs who seek work which will pay enough to help their families survive in their countries, or who are now unable to work, we are encouraged by the words of John Paul II and the words of scripture which promise that the Lord himself comes to us in the guise of the stranger, the alien.

Even though this article was written several years ago, the work continues, with more sick and wounded people each day. From the archives of the Houston Catholic Worker.

Houston Catholic Worker, Vol. XXVIII, No. 2, March-April 2008.