On Sunday, Feb. 24, Archbishop Harry Flynn spoke to a group of about 25 people atCasa Guadalupana, a Catholic Worker house in St. Paul associated with the JohnA. Ryan Institute for Catholic Social Thought. At the casa, Archbishop Flynn spoke onthe Church’s role in ministering to the immigrant. He quoted extensively from documents on immigration produced by Pope John Paul II and by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

Archbishop Flynn also spoke about the conditions of uncertainty and instability thatlead the poor to come to this country. The Church, however, does not encourage immigration; it is far preferable that people live in dignity in their homelands. Unfortunately, economic and political realities often make emigration imperative for many people. As a November 2001 USCCB statement reminds us, “those who come to the United States … come largely to seek a better life for themselves and their families or, simply to survive.”

"Our response as a matter of justice should be to offer these immigrants the assistance they need to meet their basic needs and protect their human rights."

The archbishop addressed the need for the Catholic community not only to confrontthese larger realities that cause immigration, but also to welcome the immigrants totheir new home. Immigrants who leave one set of hardships behind are met with a newset of hardships when they arrive in this country, such as lack of housing and medical care, a new language, new customs and discrimination. Our response as a matter of justice should be to offer these immigrants the assistance they need to meet their basic needs and protect their human rights.

The Twin Cities metropolitan area has itself welcomed waves of immigrants from around the world, particularly from Latin America, Southeast Asia and Africa. Many are Catholic, Archbishop Flynn noted, but the Church should have a concern for all new arrivals regardless of their religious affiliation.

During the discussion, Archbishop Flynn was asked how individual Catholics and theChurch should respond to the fact that some immigrants are undocumented. Heresponded by saying that Catholics must assist all of our brothers and sisters in need, citing a statement by the pope that our ministry should not make distinctions between“legal” and “illegal” immigrants.

The Casa Guadalupana community was honored by Archbishop Flynn’s presence and grateful for his example of pastoral concern for the vulnerable among us.