As Catholics we are called to take concrete measures to overcome the misunderstanding,
ignorance, competition, and fear that stand in the way of genuinely welcoming the stranger in our midst and enjoying the communion
that is our destiny as Children of God. We commit ourselves, accordingly, to working to strengthen understanding among the
many cultures that share in our Catholic faith, to promoting intercultural communication among our people, and to seeing that
those in ministry to our communities gain the language and cultural skills necessary to minister to the immigrants in our
The welcome and hospitality that we ask our parishes to extend to newcomers must include
active efforts on the part of the pastor and parish staff, individuals and families, parish councils, liturgy committees,
social concern entities, youth groups, and other parish organizations to undertake the special effort necessary to learn about
the cultures in their midst and to exchange visits with worship communities and parishes where different cultural groups make
their homes. Special events such as international dinners, common social events, and multicultural parish feasts can help
to introduce the various members of the parish to other cultures and can lead to greater exchanges between groups. The parish
is encouraged to sponsor forums in which members of different cultures can openly share their unique backgrounds and identify
areas of unity.
among us thus bring a richness that we are bound to embrace, for their sake and for our own. As Pope Paul VI noted, in words
recently recalled by Pope John Paul II, "The Church can regard no one as excluded from its motherly embrace, no one as outside
the scope of its motherly care. It has no enemies except those who wish to make themselves such. Its catholicity is no idle
boast. It was not for nothing that it received its mission to foster love, unity and peace among men" (Ecclesiam Suam, no. 94).
For Catholics especially, a recognition of failures in the face of the opportunities and
challenges of the new immigration should serve as a call to a renewal of baptismal vows, through repentance and a sharing
in the mercy of the one Lord who would gather all to himself in the unity of the children of God.
"Nativism" assumes that there is just one image of a "real American" and that immigrants
either cannot live up to it or willfully refuse to do so. Originally directed against Catholics of all sorts, today such nativism
can be seen in a campaign against "multiculturalism" in all its forms, on the premise that reverence for distinctive traditions
and histories undermines the unity of American society. Like the Catholic "Americanizers" of the nineteenth century, who opposed
the establishment of national parishes, the critics of multiculturalism today want immigrants and other distinctive groups
to shed their languages, customs, and identities as quickly as possible, to become Americans "just like the rest of us." But
"the rest of us" are, in fact, a culturally plural society—Catholics, Protestants, Jews, and Muslims; believers and
non-believers; Southerners and Northerners; Irish, Italian, and Mexican—proud of our heritages and proud to be Americans,
all at once.
The eucharistic celebration is central to church life and to our communion as Catholics
with one another in the one Lord. Whenever the diverse cultures of parish and diocese are able to share the Eucharist in special
celebrations that reflect the cultural riches of the participants, the Church demonstrates in the sacrament of our unity the
multicultural face of the Church, proclaiming "with joy and firm faith that God is communion, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
unity in distinction, and that he calls all people to share in that same Trinitarian communion" (Ecclesia in America, no. 34).
…the illegal immigrant
comes before us as a stranger within whom Jesus asks to be recognized. To welcome him and to show him solidarity is a duty
of hospitality and fidelity to Christian identity itself. ~ Pope John Paul II