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Jesuit Leaders Call on Ignatian Family to Expand Advocacy Efforts on Behalf of Migrants

September 18, 2019 — In a joint statement issued on September 16, the president of the Jesuit Conference and the provincial superiors of the six Jesuit provinces of the United States and Canada called on the entire Jesuit community to expand its advocacy efforts on behalf of migrants.

The statement, which comes in advance of the Catholic Church’s September 29 observance of the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, is paired with a new website for education and action around immigration issues, which can be found at jesuits.org/migration.

“For years, the Society of Jesus has accompanied, served and advocated on behalf of migrants and refugees,” the statement says. “In addition to all the ways the Jesuit family is responding to their immediate needs every day, we must pay attention to the laws and policies that affect those we serve. … Advocacy for just policies is an integral component of living out a faith that does justice.”

The Jesuit leaders, who will model the advocacy they call for during an October 10 meeting with a high-level Department of Homeland Security official in Washington, DC, draw on four key words from Pope Francis in outlining the sorts of federal laws and policies that should be enacted: welcome, protect, promote and integrate.

“These guidelines can lead us to a compassionate, humanitarian and moral response to migration,” the statement says. Policy responses should include addressing economic and political “push factors” in the countries people are leaving in addition to providing a more comprehensive welcome when migrants arrive here.

“Policies, procedures and regulations related to migration must put migrants’ humanity before their legal status, nationality or economic potential,” the statement says. “A human-centered approach to migration offers an opportunity to move beyond the fear and confusion that characterize many of our current policies, instead choosing compassion and understanding.”

Men pray before breakfast in the Kino Border Initiative's dining room in Nogales, Mexico. (CNS photo/David Maung)
Jesuits, members of Jesuit works and the broader Ignatian family are encouraged to respond to an action alert at jesuits.org/migration that calls on lawmakers to remove the “unreasonable barriers” that are preventing people fleeing violence and persecution from declaring asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border. The website, co-sponsored by the Jesuit Conference’s Office of Justice and Ecology, the Ignatian Solidarity Network, Jesuit Refugee Service/USA and Kino Border Initiative, will include educational materials, ministry resources and updated action alerts in the months ahead.

“We thank all the Ignatian and Jesuit leaders across our countries who have already taken action to advocate for the rights of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. We ask you to continue this important work and invite all Jesuits, Jesuit works and the many members of the Ignatian family to join us in these advocacy efforts,” the statement concludes. “Contact your political representatives with a letter, email, phone call or visit. Organize a local advocacy event. There are many ways to lift up our voices.”

The statement was signed by the following Jesuits:

  • Fr. Timothy Kesicki, SJ, President, Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States
  • Fr. John Cecero, SJ, Provincial, USA Northeast Province
  • Fr. Robert Hussey, SJ, Provincial, Maryland Province
  • Fr. Ronald A. Mercier, SJ, Provincial, USA Central and Southern Province
  • Fr. Erik Oland, SJ, Provincial, Canada Province
  • Fr. Brian Paulson, SJ, Provincial, USA Midwest Province
  • Fr. Scott Santarosa, SJ, Provincial, USA West Province




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