Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Now they've gone too far!
Comparing illegal immigrants to Jesus Christ is just too much!

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http://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060415/NEWS01/604150432
April 15, 2006
Clergy see faith parallels in march
Immigrants often turn to church as place for help

By Robert King
robert.king@indystar.com
April 15, 2006
Lupita Aguayo looks at her community of Hispanic immigrants and sees a similarity between their plight and Jesus' fate in the Easter story -- the innocent sacrificed to appease the politically powerful.
"He was tried like a criminal, the same like us," said Aguayo, a Mexican immigrant here on a work visa. "We are treated like criminals, and we are not criminals."
The Rev. Thomas Fox, a Catholic priest heavily involved in organizing Monday's immigration rally in Indianapolis, said the massive turnout was, in some ways, much like a voice from the tomb.
"To me, it is like a resurrection that people have come to life in a very strong and forceful way," he said.
That such a politically charged issue evokes deep, spiritual images for some reflects a key aspect of the immigrant cause in Indianapolis and elsewhere. It is a movement frequently led by religious leaders and anchored in churches.
"The most trusted (place) for people is the church," said the Rev. Samuel Ruiz, a Cuban immigrant who leads an alliance of Hispanic pastors in Indianapolis.
He said immigrants bring few possessions with them to America, but most bring an abiding faith. In the face of new laws regarding immigration, it is natural for them to turn to the church for help.
"It is the place people go to pray to God, to praise God and to ask for help," he said.
Ruiz and other Spanish-speaking clergy took to the airwaves of Hispanic radio stations in recent weeks to promote their cause, and they talked about it in their churches.
When the rally came to a head Monday -- the Monday of Holy Week, as it turned out by coincidence -- they were among those leading the multitudes.
"Jesus was a refugee himself as a baby," said Ruiz, referring to the holy family's flight to Egypt as described in the Gospels. "I think we need to recognize that all of us, at some point in our lives, are refugees."
The immigrant community has been stirred by recent proposals to make it a felony for immigrants to be here illegally, as well as to charge those who aid immigrants. Fear is spreading that families could be torn apart if undocumented parents are deported while their children, citizens by birth here, are left behind.
Religious leaders in the movement say they are driven by the most ancient writings in the Bible that call on people to reach out to strangers with food, clothing and hospitality. They refer also to New Testament passages in which Jesus directed his people to care for the poor, to aid those who are hurting and to love your neighbor as yourself.
Yet, around the faith community, others see competing spiritual imperatives at work in the immigration issue.
Curt Smith is president of the Indiana Family Institute, a parachurch organization that has regular contact with more than 1,000 Indiana churches. Smith said he never would discourage illegal immigrants from seeking medical care, food and clothing, but he said they also should report to government authorities and seek citizenship, even if it puts them at risk of being deported.
"Faith leaders need to strike a balance between encouraging people to follow the law, which is a strong biblical commandment, but also caring for the downtrodden and disadvantaged," Smith said.
While other ethnic groups were represented in Monday's immigration rally, the largest portion was Hispanic -- both documented and illegal.
The official Hispanic population has more than tripled in Marion County and surrounding counties since 1990, to nearly 43,000. Some say the number could be as many as 100,000 Hispanic immigrants here. Religious groups throughout the city have responded to meet their spiritual needs.
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Indianapolis, which for years held one weekly Spanish Mass, now has 13 Spanish Masses at 10 parishes.
The alliance of Hispanic congregations Ruiz leads has more than 50 congregations from Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist and other denominations.
Elsewhere, churches have hired Spanish-speaking ministers to develop new congregations. Others reach out by providing food, clothing and English classes to poorer immigrants.
The Rev. Arturo Ocampo is the pastor at St. Patrick Catholic Church, a parish founded by Irish immigrants that was on the verge of closing until the influx of Hispanic immigrants gave it new life -- a resurrection of a different sort.
He reminds people that Catholics display the crucifix prominently in their churches to remind them that Christ continues to suffer, and that his church suffers, too.
"We are the body of Christ. We are the church," Ocampo said. "And right now, the body of Christ here in the United States of America is suffering the consequences of this whole thing of immigration."
Aguayo, who teaches Spanish at the International School of Indiana, said it's appropriate that Monday's march -- what many see as a watershed moment in the fight for immigrant rights -- happened to fall in the week leading up to Easter.
She hopes that -- like the Passion story itself -- difficult days have a happy ending.
"Jesus was sacrificed," she said. "He died for us, and then the liberty came. We want to work. We want to have a better life for our children. We are looking for a better future."

1 Comments:

Blogger HoosierMama? said...

The following letter to the editor was responding to the Church-sponsored illegal alien rally in Ft. Wayne. While it doesn't respond to the Indy Star article, I thought it was still relevant to this post.

http://www.fortwayne.com/mld/newssentinel/news/editorial/14288440.htm

Church rallies for lawlessness

It’s quite disturbing to see the Catholic Church leading a march supporting lawlessness.

That’s exactly what they’re doing. They deceive us by omission when they leave out the word “illegal” when discussing immigrants.

If man’s law conflicted with God’s law, I would applaud the church’s stand. But it does not. Our current immigration laws are good, and they are just. We provide a legal way for immigration to take place and we set limits for the welfare of our own citizens.

Even if we wanted to, we cannot bring billions of the world’s poor into our country and take care of them all. If the church was truly righteous in this matter, it would exclusively use its own funds to support illegals instead of allowing them to covet their neighbor’s houses and steal their neighbor’s jobs and then burden their neighbors with a tax bill for the education, welfare and medical treatment of illegals. When will the church march for the rights of parishioners on fixed incomes who cannot afford ever-growing tax bills?

God sets our leaders and governments in place to keep order. What would Jesus do? He honored his father by following Roman law. The church should do likewise and obey our laws.

Cheree Calabro Indiana Federation for Immigration Reform & Enforcement

4/18/2006 2:50 PM  

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