Bishop reflects on joyous occasions, immigration
My dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
The Church continues to celebrate the joy of Easter as we anticipate the Solemnity of the Ascension of our Lord on 16 May 2010 and the Solemnity of Pentecost on Sunday 23 May 2010. It truly is a time of power and grace given to us by the Holy Spirit. That same Holy Spirit that hovered over the heads of the apostles is poured out in abundance still today in the Diocese of Sioux City.
What a joy it is for me as your Bishop to travel back and forth in our diocese to celebrate the Eucharist and Administer the Sacrament of Confirmation to hundreds of young people. I am truly impressed by the faith of our young. The gift of the Holy Spirit that they receive adds power and grace to the faith they received at their baptism. We have great hope for the bold witness of those who receive this sacrament. They are called to give testimony to their faith and what we believe to a world that is sometimes hostile to the message of the Gospel. They are called to witness to the dignity of each human life from natural conception to natural death. They are called to be models of the virtue of chastity and purity in a world filled with a lack of respect for the human body. They are called to be faithful Catholics, celebrating the Eucharist each Sunday and receiving the Sacrament of Confession often. One day, these young people will be the recipients of the sacraments of Marriage or Holy Orders. Please pray for them and encourage them and thank them for the witness of their growing faith. These young people are our special gifts. Thank you to the teachers, catechists, sponsors, parents and priests who help them prepare and celebrate the Sacrament of our Church.
ORDINATION OF DEACONS
The joy of the Holy Spirit’s power and presence in the Church of Sioux City was certainly present in the ordination of six men to the order of deacon on May 1st, the Solemnity of Saint Joseph the Worker. Our new deacons: Bruce Chartier (St. Joseph Parish, Sioux City), Kenny Lindquist (St. Joseph Parish, Sioux Rapids), David Lopez (Cathedral of the Epiphany, Sioux City), Darwin Messerly (Sacred Heart Parish, Boone), Richard Port (St. Patrick’s Parish, Akron), Richard Roder (St. Mary’s Parish, Remsen), were ordained in our Cathedral with their wives, family, relatives and friends praying for them.
What a treasure these men are for our diocese and the Church. They will assist me as Bishop and our priests especially in ministry of the Word and in Service to others. They will preach and baptize, witness marriages and conduct burial rites; they will teach and explain the faith to others. As married men, they will witness to the faith to their families and to the communities in which they live and serve. They join 37 other deacons in our diocese, all giving great witness to the faith we profess. Please pray for all our deacons, may they continue to be signs of the Holy Spirit’s presence among us.
On Monday, May 3rd the Church celebrated the Feast of the Apostles, Philip and James. I had the privilege of celebrating Mass with my brother priests at St. Mary’s Church in Storm Lake. We honored and thanked several priests celebrating anniversaries of their ordination, 60, 50, 55, and 25 years ago. These priests have served us well and all who have been touched by their ministry will forever be grateful. In this “Year for Priests,” we give thanks to God for the many faithful priests who have served us in the past and who continue to do so today. Please continue to pray for our priests and for our seminarians. Take a moment to express your thanks in a short “Thank You” after Mass. Your support means more to us than you know.
A FEW THOUGHTS ON IMMIGRATION
My brother bishops and I are trying to be clear in expressing the basic moral principles involved in state and federal efforts to reform our immigration laws. These moral principles derive from the inherent, God-given dignity of each human person. Just laws respect these principles; unjust laws fail to do so.
First, persons must always be treated as persons of equal inherent worth, never as objects or as means to an end. This means that racial profiling and ethnic discrimination are moral evils against the dignity of the human person. In our American culture and history, we grasp this fairly well in the common and correct idea that just laws must treat all people in the same way.
We are not at war with any of the countries of Latin America, nor with Canada. It violates the dignity even of legal immigrants to impose a military solution to the problem of regulating and enforcing our borders.
Second, people do have a natural right to work. This applies, first of all, to the home region or nation of every worker, who, in justice, should be able to find just and adequate employment without having to relocate a family. But it also implies the right to go to where work is offered, even to migrate to another country, if circumstances require. This right to migrate is not unlimited, and it does not imply that a state cannot control how and when people move across national borders. It does mean that there must be avenues of legal immigration sufficiently broad to meet political and economic needs, on both sides of a national border. In America today, and for the last 30 years, birthrates remain below replacement level. Because of the culture of death, our population is growing only through immigration. Our overall economy, then, is very much dependent on the contributions of immigrants. If immigration laws do not provide broad enough legal access to meet this economic need, there will be a commensurate demand for illegal access.
In determining practically what legal access is “broad enough,” people’s safety is of equal importance. Properly policing the border also means excluding, and even capturing for legal prosecution, agents of criminal or terrorist intent. There must be a sustainable balance between inclusion of those intent on our good, and exclusion of those intent on our harm.
Third, families have a right to remain together. Even when a family provides only one working adult economically, the presence of the family as a family already contributes socially and morally to the common good. Laws that expect or require the separation of fathers and mothers from each other, or from their children, are unjust.
Fourth, immigrants must always be accorded other natural human rights: an ordinary level of freedom of movement and association, freedom of conscience, preservation of language and culture, access to goods and services, especially of education and preventative and emergency health care, and so forth. By the same token, immigrants are also held to observe their natural duties: for example, to abide by just laws, to respect the culture and traditions of their host country, and to contribute to the common good.
Finally, the Church calls the citizens of the host country, and especially the faithful, to the virtue of hospitality. The universality of the Church is a providential means of welcoming and integrating Catholic immigrants into the society they seek to join. The social arms of the Church, cooperating with other groups and denominations, can likewise be useful in fostering welcome and integration for immigrants of all backgrounds. An essential aspect of hospitality is to invite newcomers to step or grow into roles of leadership and service in their new community.
As we gather this Sunday for Mass, we do so aware of the gift of our mothers, living and dead. In union with our Blessed Mother, Mary, we pray in thanksgiving for the women who chose to give us life. May the honor we show them on this Mother’s Day be a true gift of thanks. May all mothers and mothers-to-be, know of our gratitude and appreciation for all they do for us.
May the Risen Christ, His Holy Spirit and our Loving Father grant you all peace and joy!
Your brother in Christ,
Most Reverend R. Walker Nickless
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