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Peace & Justice

Bishop to Congress: 'Immigration is humanitarian issue'


Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas of Tucson, Ariz., vice president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, told lawmakers on Capitol Hill that the problem of immigration should not be dissected as an economic issue, but as a humanitarian one.

Bishop Kicanas made the remarks July 14 before the House Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security and International Law.

"The current immigration law we have today fails to meet the moral test of dignity to the human person," said Bishop Kicanas, whose diocese runs along the whole of the Arizona-Mexico border.Referring to a tough new law passed April 23 in Arizona but not expected to take effect until July 29, he said it was "only providing a Band-Aid unless new federal laws are made."

He made a clear distinction between those coming to the United States to work and those coming to do the nation harm.

"From a moral perspective, we cannot accept the toil of immigrants without providing them protection," Bishop Kicanas said.

The testimony the bishop delivered made several points about what comprehensive immigration reform should include.

Presbyterians take half step on gays


In a whirlwind of activity, the Presbyterian Church (USA) voted to lift a ban on partnered gay clergy, but turned down a bid to expand its definition of marriage to include same-sex couples.

The more than 700 Presbyterians gathered for their General Assembly in Minneapolis also adopted a 170-page report on the Middle East and denounced Caterpillar Inc. for allowing its machinery to be used for “non-peaceful purposes” in the region.

With just more than 2 million members, the PCUSA is the nation's largest Presbyterian denomination, though like most mainline Protestant churches it has been bleeding members for years. Nearly all of mainline churches have been roiled in recent years by internal debates over gay marriage and gay clergy.

The PCUSA clergy resolution, which passed on Thursday (July 8) by a vote of 373-323, strips any mention of sexuality from ordination requirements.

For the fourth time in nearly a dozen years, the denomination's 173 regional governing bodies, called presbyteries, must now decide whether to ratify the General Assembly's vote to allow partnered gays to serve as elders, deacons, and pastors.

Finding food now in Haiti is not shopping


The last time my son-in-law, Corey, went to Haiti, I requested a souvenir from the gift shop at the Port-au-Prince airport. I wanted him to bring me a poster of “Les Chefs d’État d’Haiti, 1804-2011.” This display of the pictures of Haiti’s presidents -- individuals, as well as committees that have ruled throughout Haiti’s last 200 years -- tells the length of each person or cadre’s tenure.

Attacks serve a separate agenda


Let’s speak plainly: The effort by right-wing Catholic groups to defund and disband the Catholic Campaign for Human Development has little to do with the small number of grants the program has provided to antipoverty groups that don’t meet funding criteria (See story). In a large program -- the campaign has distributed more than 8,000 grants in the past 40 years -- such small aberrations, while not welcome, are hardly shocking.

Why one bishop dropped out of CCHD


Reporter's Notebook

WASHINGTON – When you're calling people for a story and writing on deadline, sometimes you don't get a hoped-for call-back until after your paper has gone to press.

After I finished a story July 1 for NCR about dioceses that have decided to stop or suspend their participation in the annual Catholic Campaign for Human Development collection, Bishop Robert J. Baker of Birmingham, Ala., called back Friday, July 2, when that week's NCR had already gone to the printer.

See the main story: 10 dioceses quit bishops’ antipoverty campaign

Baker had asked his people to shift last November's CCHD collection to the Church in Latin America, another yearly national collection, and he told me in future years he will replace it with a locally oriented Beacons of Hope collection "to save our center-city schools."

In the story I had only noted that he redirected last year's collection to the Church in Latin America. I didn't know he had a different agenda for the future or why he did.

10 dioceses quit bishops' antipoverty campaign



WASHINGTON -- At least 10 U.S. bishops have decided within the past year to suspend or drop their annual collection for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development in their dioceses, and another is withholding funds at least for now.

Bishop Bernard Hebda of Gaylord, Mich., said in June that he has decided to delay sending the diocese’s annual donation to the campaign until a review of its grant practices is completed. The U.S. bishops’ subcommittee on the campaign is currently reviewing funding practices and gave a preliminary report to the bishops’ Administrative Committee in March.

Several of the bishops who have decided to suspend or drop the collection cited concerns about some grant recipients. Some recipients have had to return grants when church officials learned they were directly involved in some activity not in accord with Catholic moral and social teaching. Grant recipients are required to certify that they do not engage in any such activities.

Immigration law puts town on path with no clear end

WASHINGTON -- When residents of Fremont, Neb., voted June 21 to bar undocumented immigrants from renting housing or getting jobs in their city, they stepped onto a path that other U.S. towns have already blazed, with legal and political results that remain unclear years later.

One thing that is clear, however, is that similar ordinances have been costly, both financially and to relationships within the communities.

Fremont's voter initiative, approved by a vote of 3,900 to 2,900, will require people to get a permit from the city to rent property. The permit application requires proof of legal U.S. residency for anyone who says they are not a U.S. citizen.

Those unable to prove their legal status would lose their occupancy permits and would be subject to a daily fine of $100 if they don't vacate the property, according to an analysis by Jim Cunningham, director of the Nebraska Catholic Conference, published in the Catholic Voice, newspaper of the Omaha Archdiocese.



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