Brian R Corbin's Reflections on Religion and Life

Living Your Faith as Citizens and Leaders in Politics, Culture, Society and Business

Bishop speaks out about how migrants are used as pawns

U.S. bishops’ migration chairman writes for Politico: “Migrants pawns in Mexico-U.S. game” http://ow.ly/1Ncas

Migrants pawns in Mexico-U.S. game
By: John C. Wester
May 19, 2010 05:03 AM EDT Mexican President Felipe Calderon is scheduled to visit President Barack Obama at the White House on Wednesday, which is good news, considering the problems along the U.S.-Mexico border.

In fact, a strong relationship between Obama and Calderon may hold the key to the many problems affecting both the United States and Mexico domestically — drug-related violence, the economy and, of course, immigration.

One big misperception of the U.S. immigration debate is that if Congress could pass an immigration reform bill, it would be the magic bullet that kills illegal immigration.

Such a bill is indeed indispensable to a long-term solution and must be addressed — sooner rather than later. But it should be understood that the humane and lasting answer to this vexing social issue lies in regional, if not global, cooperation among nation-states.

Immigration is not just a domestic issue; it is keyed to foreign affairs.

If the world is a marketplace, then migrants and their labor help deliver the produce and stock the shelves. In other terms, while economically powerful nations hold the capital, migrants help fill the jobs needed to turn capital into profit. This important role in the world economic order should give migrant workers an honored place — with the appropriate legal and labor protections.

In North America, Europe and most places in the industrialized world, however, migrant workers are left without legal protection. They are characterized as criminals — as in Arizona — and blamed for myriad social ills.

The de facto migration relationship between the United States and Mexico is a prime example. Migrants from Mexico, unable to support their families at home, take a dangerous journey to the United States and fill menial but crucial jobs in the U.S. economy — dishwashers, farmworkers and day laborers, for example.

As a result, the United States receives the benefit of their toil and taxes without having to worry about protecting their rights — in either the courtroom or the workplace. When convenient, they are made political scapegoats and attacked — through both rhetoric and work-site raids — as if they were not human.

But Mexico also wins financially under this system. The country receives up to $20 billion in remittances per year — perhaps down to $15 billion during this recession — without having to pay attention to the lower rungs of its economy.

What is left is a “go north” policy that exposes Mexican citizens to the ravages of human smugglers, corrupt law enforcement officials and potential death in the desert.

The big losers in this globalization game are the migrants, of course. They have no political power and are unable to defend themselves from inevitable abuse and exploitation.

These migrants are pawns in a system that preys on their desperation and expropriates their work ethic. As in a chess match, they are expendable and at the service of the most valuable player, the king — in this case, the sovereign nations of the United States and Mexico.

As a moral matter, the United States and Mexico cannot have it both ways — accepting the labor and remittances of these immigrants without recognizing their basic human rights.

It is time for both nations to abandon this mutual “nod and wink” policy, not found in written law but still all too real.

In its place, they should reform their national immigration laws and enforce current labor and due-process protections, so that migrants can come out of the shadows and travel and work in a safe and controlled manner.

Over the long term, joint efforts could be pursued to promote development in communities now drained by the migrant outflow, so that Mexicans can remain at home to work and support their families.

At a minimum, both Obama and Calderon should strive to ensure that international economic agreements, like the North American Free Trade Agreement, do not devastate industries that hire low-skilled workers in their home countries.

Obama has indicated his support of U.S. immigration reforms and his interest in addressing the root causes of migration, like underdevelopment. Calderon has emphasized the need for job creation among Mexico’s poor, and he has acknowledged the continuing mistreatment of migrants within Mexico.

But neither leader has done enough to address these issues.

The state visit this week could be a good first step to help change that equation.

Together, the two leaders have the opportunity to reframe the immigration debate in a way that recognizes the effects of globalization on the movement of labor yet injects basic human rights principles into the system.

The world would take note.

They can also remind us — and the global community — that migrants, including those without legal status, are not goods to be traded but human beings to be protected.

John C. Wester is the bishop of Salt Lake City and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration.

Filed under: Economic Policy, Fair Trade, Market Place, Migration, Social Justice, Uncategorized

Articles on Catholic Social Teaching and Immigration

The March 2010 issue of the Woodstock Report (from the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University) is dedicated to Immigration Reform. Articles by Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Donald Kerwin, Thomas Reese, and several others include:
“Honoring Human Dignity and the Common Good: A Catholic Approach to Immigration Reform”
‘We Must Serve and Defend Them in the Public Square”
“No Person is Illegal”
“Were My Parents Criminals?”
“Love the alien as yourself”
“We Are All Sojourners Here”
“The Other”
and
“Crossing the Borders and Redefining Identity: Gener, Body and Space”

Filed under: Migration, morals, Social Doctrine, Social Justice

Labor Day and Blessed Frederick Ozanam

Wishing everyone a Happy Labor Day.

It is also interesting this year that Labor Day falls on the memorial of Blessed Frederick Ozanam, the founder of the St. Vincent de Paul Society.

In the 1830’s he and a friend began visiting Paris tenements and offering assistance as best they could. Soon a group dedicated to helping individuals in need under the patronage of St. Vincent de Paul formed around Frederick.

In 1846, Frederick, Amelie and their daughter Marie went to Italy; there Frederick hoped to restore his poor health. They returned the next year. The revolution of 1848 left many Parisians in need of the services of the St. Vincent de Paul conferences. The unemployed numbered 275,000. The government asked Frederick and his co-workers to supervise the government aid to the poor. Vincentians throughout Europe came to the aid of Paris.

Frederick then started a newspaper, The New Era, dedicated to securing justice for the poor and the working classes. Fellow Catholics were often unhappy with what Frederick wrote. Referring to the poor man as “the nation’s priest,” Frederick said that the hunger and sweat of the poor formed a sacrifice that could redeem the people’s humanity.

In 1852 poor health again forced Frederick to return to Italy with his wife and daughter. He died on September 8, 1853. In his sermon at Frederick’s funeral, Lacordaire described his friend as “one of those privileged creatures who came direct from the hand of God in whom God joins tenderness to genius in order to enkindle the world.”

Frederick was beatified in 1997.

Frederick’s witness as a lay Catholic engaged in social ministry serves as a model for our own time.  He offered his talents to teach others incorporating the gospel message, as well as living out his witness by serving those, especially as an advocate and with direct material aid to help working class families.

What do you think Frederick Ozanam offers our time?

Filed under: Culture, Personal Reflections, Social Justice, Spirituality

Here are some important points to consider when reviewing the health care reform debate

During the August recess, please urge members of Congress to keep working on comprehensive health reform.  We also need to educate/form our selves and neighbors on some important aspects to this debate, informed by the Catholic moral tradition, rather than rely on blasts by various interests.

Here are some issues in health reform legislation that need to be considered:

  • Support Health Care Coverage for All :
    • Expand Medicaid to everyone under 133% of the federal poverty level (FPL);
    • Cover immigrants, both documented and undocumented;
    • Provide subsidies for low-income individuals and families up to 400% FPL;
    • Reform the health insurance market, by prohibiting preexisting condition exclusions, requiring guaranteed issue of insurance, and establishing premium rating restrictions;
    • Ensure access to preventive care and chronic care management;
    • Provide support for long-term care services by including the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act.
  • Preserve Provider Conscience Protections and Support “Abortion Neutrality” — Not an Abortion Coverage Mandate:
    • Support an “abortion neutral” approach by continuing longstanding and widely supported policies protecting provider conscience rights; prohibit the use of federal funds for abortion; and not mandating abortion as part of any benefit package
  • Support Delivery System Reforms that improve quality of care, patient outcomes, and efficiency, but do not arbitrarily reduce reimbursement rates:
    • Support a targeted Medicare hospital readmissions policy focused only on the top 8 to 10 conditions for readmission;
    • Support a Medicare Value Based Purchasing program that reimburses hospitals based on improved quality of care, implemented in a budget neutral manner;
    • Test the feasibility of bundled hospital and post acute care payments through pilot projects and a study prior to considering a bundled payment system;
    • Ensure any public plan, if included, provides adequate payment rates for providers.
  • Ensure Sufficient and Fair Financing with “shared responsibility”:
    • Protect Medicare and Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) payments by ensuring that any DSH payment reductions are tied to and occur after demonstrated reductions in the number of uninsured.
  • Visit the Catholic Health Association of the United States for more details.  Catholic health care is one of the largest providers of health services in the US and throughout the world.  Our moral tradition is very much connected to the practice of medicine and ethics that have been a hallmark of the Christian tradition for centuries.  Health care practice and policy have been a concern of the Catholic Church for centuries.

Filed under: Culture, Economic Policy, healthcare, Market Place, Medical Ethics, morals, Social Justice

Pope creates five saints, says they hold lessons for economic crisis

 

By John Thavis Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI canonized five new saints and said their dedication to the Eucharist, the poor and the world of work made them models for today’s Christians in an era of economic crisis.

By orienting their lives to Christ, the five men and women showed that “it is possible to lay the foundations for construction of a society open to justice and solidarity, overcoming that economic and cultural imbalance that continues to exist in a great part of our planet,” the pope said. The pope celebrated the canonization Mass in St. Peter’s Square April 26, joined by tens of thousands of pilgrims who held up photos or drawings of the saints.

Four of the new saints were Italian and one was Portuguese. Dressed in bright gold vestments, the 82-year-old pontiff listened as biographies of the five were read aloud, and then pronounced the canonization formula, drawing applause from the crowd. Afterward, relics of the new saints were brought to the altar. In his homily, the pope said the saints’ life stories hold valuable lessons for modern Christians. Each of the newly canonized had a special devotion to the Eucharist, and each transformed that spiritual power into social action, he said.

The five new saints are:

 — St. Arcangelo Tadini, a parish priest from the northern Italian area of Brescia, who preached strongly in defense of workers’ rights during the industrialization period of the late 1800s. He organized an association to help factory workers, established a spinning mill to give young girls of the area gainful employment, and eventually founded a religious order of sisters who worked alongside women in the factories. Pope Benedict said his Gospel-inspired social activity was “prophetic” and is particularly relevant in the current economic crisis. He said the saint taught people that a deep personal relationship with Christ is the key to bringing Christian values into the workplace.

 — St. Bernardo Tolomei, who, inspired by his love for prayer and for manual labor, founded a unique Benedictine monastic movement in Italy in the 14th century. Born in Siena, he was forced by an onset of blindness to give up a public career, and he decided to found a small hermitic community. He later founded the monastery of Santa Maria di Monte Oliveto Maggiore, and died in 1348 of the plague while helping victims of the disease; his burial place, in a common pit, has never been found. The pope called him “an authentic martyr of charity” and said his service to others was an inspiration to all.

 — St. Nuno de Santa Maria Alvares Pereira, a Portuguese army hero in the late 1300s, who, after the death of his wife, abandoned his military career and gave up his wealth to enter a Carmelite monastery. In particular he helped the poor, distributing food to the needy. He was totally dedicated to Marian prayer, and fasted in Mary’s honor three days of the week. The pope said he was happy to canonize a person whose faith grew while in the military, a context generally viewed as unfavorable to holiness. It demonstrates that the values and principles of the Gospel can be realized in any situation, especially when they are employed for the common good, he said.

 — St. Geltrude Comensoli, born in the mid-19th century in the Brescia area, who established a religious institute dedicated to the adoration of the Eucharist. In approving the institute in 1880, Pope Leo XIII asked her to include as part of its mission the education of young female factory workers. Pope Benedict said this connection of contemplative charity with “lived charity” was particularly important “in a society that is lost and often wounded like our own.” He said the saint’s life shows that adoration takes precedence over acts of charity, because “from love for Christ died and resurrected, and truly present in the Eucharist, comes that evangelical charity that pushes us to consider all men as brothers.”

— St. Caterina Volpicelli, who founded a community of sisters centered on Eucharistic adoration and service to the poor, especially young orphans, in the slums of Naples in the mid-1800s. The pope said she correctly saw that in order to bring the Gospel to bear on society it was necessary to “liberate God from the prisons in which man has confined him.” Banners depicting the newly canonized were hung on the faOade of St. Peter’s Basilica, and fluttered in the breeze during the two-hour liturgy.

At the end of the Mass, the pope greeted pilgrims in several languages and said he hoped the new saints would inspire people to witness the Gospel courageously in their daily lives.

Filed under: consumerism, Culture, Market Place, Papal Teachings, Social Doctrine, Social Justice, Spirituality