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Catholic Leaders Send Messages of Support to “Fast for Families” on the National Mall

December 2, 2013, 2:17 pm | Posted by Michael McGovern

Advocates begin 21st day of fasting today, urge Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform

Prominent Catholic leaders – including the president of Catholic Charities USA, Catholic university presidents and former U.S. Ambassadors to the Vatican – released a statement today offering encouragement to immigration reform advocates now starting their 21st day of a water-only fast to dramatize the moral urgency of passing comprehensive immigration reform.

“We are hopeful that your sacrifices and determined stand in the face of Congressional delay will awaken the consciences and break open the hearts of elected officials to the human suffering caused by an immigration system that tears families apart,” the leaders write. “Your courageous example reminds us all that the issue of immigration reform is not about partisan politics or narrow ideological agendas. This is a profound moral issue, as old as the Hebrew prophets and the Gospel, that calls into question the kind of nation we aspire to pass on to our children.”

The core group of fasters include Eliseo Medina, former international Secretary Treasurer of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Dae Joong Yoon of the National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC) and Cristian Avila, 23, of Mi Familia Vota in Phoenix, the son of Mexican immigrants. As of today, more than 5,000 people across the country have fasted in solidarity for one or more days and hundreds have joined nightly community meetings at the fasters’ tent to offer support. This week, students on 11 Catholic university campuses are fasting in solidarity. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the retired archbishop of the Archdiocese of Washington, will visit the tent tomorrow to offer spiritual support and prayers as the fasters continue a national week of solidarity, prayer and action.

Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez joined a group of civic and labor leaders last week to announce a 24-hour fast between December 1-3 in solidarity with the Fast for Families. “Everyone knows our immigration system is broken,” Archbishop Gomez said in announcing the fast. “But our leaders don’t seem to feel enough urgency to fix it. So we offer our fasting today as a prayer — in the hopes of moving the hearts of our national leaders in Washington.” Bishop Blase Cupich of the Diocese of Sopkane, WA. last week sent fasters a letter saying their efforts are a “cause of great inspiration to me personally.” Bishop Cupich added: “I have been working with elected officials directly and through other community leaders to spur action on achieving comprehensive immigration reform. You motivate me to enhance those efforts.”

The message of solidarity released today will be delivered to the fasters’ tent on the National Mall, which in recent days has attracted a stream of elected officials, civil rights and religious leaders  – including President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, Jessie Jackson and Bishop John Wester, the Roman Catholic bishop of Salt Lake City. The statement of support is signed by among others Rev. Larry Snyder, President of Catholic Charities USA; Thomas P. Melady, retired U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See under President George H.W. Bush; Miguel Diaz, former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See under President Barack Obama; the presidents of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities and the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities; the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas and Sabrina Burton Schultz, Director of Life Ministry in the Diocese of St. Petersburg, Fla.

The full statement with signatories can be found below and here.

Dear Fasters,

We are deeply moved and personally inspired by your prophetic witness that demonstrates the moral urgency of comprehensive immigration reform. We are hopeful that your sacrifices and determined stand in the face of Congressional delay will awaken the consciences and break open the hearts of elected officials to the human suffering caused by an immigration system that tears families apart. Your courageous example reminds us all that the issue of immigration reform is not about partisan politics or narrow ideological agendas. This is a profound moral issue, as old as the Hebrew prophets and the Gospel, that calls into question the kind of nation we aspire to pass on to our children.

As Pope Francis said when he visited the island of Lampedusa to honor migrants, we are all complicit in a “globalization of indifference” when we fail to confront the personal and political realities that undermine human dignity. Thank you for your moral leadership. Please know that you are in our prayers.

In solidarity,

Rev. Larry Snyder
President
Catholic Charities USA

Thomas P. Melady
U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See (retired)
President Emeritus, Sacred Heart University

Miguel Diaz
Former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See
University Professor of Faith and Culture
University of Dayton

Rev. Michael J. Sheeran, S.J.
President
Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities

Michael Galligan-Stierle
President
Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities

Rev. Stephen Privett, S.J.
President
University of San Francisco

Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, C.M.
President
DePaul University

Arturo Chávez
Mexican American Catholic College
San Antonio

Sister Ann Scholz, SSND, PhD
Associate Director for Social Mission
Leadership Conference of Women Religious

Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas

Sabrina Burton Schultz
Director of Life Ministry
Diocese of St. Petersburg

Sister Simone Campbell, SSS
Executive Director
NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby

Kim Bobo
President
Interfaith Worker Justice

Larry Couch
National Advocacy Center
Sisters of the Good Shepherd

Rev. Frederick L. Thelen
President, Action of Greater Lansing
Pastor, Cristo Rey Church

Rev. Joseph Nangle, O.F.M

Susan M. Weishar
Migration Specialist
Jesuit Social Research Institute
Loyola University, New Orleans

Christopher G. Kerr
Executive Director
Ignatian Solidarity Network

 

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