(RNS) Sometimes a picture says it all.

Consider the 1963 picture of fire hoses and snarling police dogs in Birmingham, Ala., used against African-American students protesting racial segregation. Surely not our civil servants at their best.

Or the 1972 picture of the little girl in North Vietnam running terrified and naked with burning skin after South Vietnamese planes accidentally dropped napalm on Trang Bang, which had been occupied by North Vietnamese troops. The world then saw how war could hurt children.

Now, in 2014, we see citizens of Murrieta, Calif., turning back buses of women and children headed for a federal processing center, a day after Mayor Alan Long told them to let the government know they opposed its decision to move recent undocumented immigrants to the local Border Patrol station.

Sister Mary Ann Walsh, spokeswoman, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Photo courtesy Bob Roller, Catholic News Service

Sister Mary Ann Walsh, spokeswoman, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Photo courtesy Bob Roller, Catholic News Service

The first two images helped turn the tide when they awakened U.S. citizens to a shameful tragedy. We know the aftermath. The U.S. Congress 50 years ago passed civil rights legislation to guarantee basic human and equal rights for minorities that civil rights workers fought (and some died) for. We pulled out of Vietnam, a war we could not win.

We now await a moral conscience moment in the welcoming of children and others escaping the violence in such countries as Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. Parents and children from these countries have made the difficult decision to leave their homes and have endured dangerous journeys to cross the U.S.-Mexican border. They risk it because the possible horrors of the treacherous migration, such as trafficking, abuse and even death in the desert, still look better than possible death by gang violence at home.

Some hopes exist already. Contrast the mob in Murrieta, with the people of Brownsville and McAllen, Texas. There Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley offers welcome centers at Sacred Heart Church in McAllen and Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Brownsville. The youngest guest: a 1-day-old baby girl. The baby and others are being helped by a host of volunteers.

Heroes are emerging. First might be Sister Norma Pimentel, executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley. She is convening the local faith communities to address the problem and organizing the local populace to collect food, medicine, children’s sweaters and hoodies, men’s sneakers, and women’s socks and underwear. The city of McAllen is collaborating by providing portable shower facilities and tents for overnight stays.

Another is Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville. On his social media blog, he notes: “What we are seeing unfold in front of our eyes is a humanitarian and refugee reality, not an immigration problem.” He adds that “the Church must respond in the best way we can to the human need” and says “at the same time we ask our government to act responsibly to address the reality of migrant refugees. A hemispheric response is needed, not a simple border response. And we ask the government to protect the church’s freedom to serve people.”

Bishop Mark Seitz of El Paso, Texas, spoke before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee in late June. He called the number of children crossing the U.S.-Mexico border “a test of the moral character” of our nation. “We must not fail this test,” he said.

Right now, the welcoming community of Brownsville and surrounding communities are acing the test. In Murrieta, the mayor and the citizens who drove back the buses need to study more. President Obama looks for ways to return the children to their perilous homeland. The U.S. Congress sits on its hands. To prepare for the test of moral character, protesters in Murrieta, the president and the Congress, might hit the books, especially the New Testament. A place to start is Matthew 25, where Jesus states: “Whatever you do for these, the least of my brethren, you do also for me.”

(Sister Mary Ann Walsh is director of media relations for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.)

YS/AMB END WALSH

40 Comments

  1. The writers endless humanitarian slant would be valid if she could just answer one question:

    How are we going to pay for them all?

    Since she can’t answer that, but is a boomer, naturally she will just devolve into her semi rational call for america to take care of the world and some future generation to pay the bill.

    Again, not exactly a scenario I would describe as a society of truly free people. Thats why the real thinkers among us are blocking the buses.

    • @Lles Nats,

      How would we pay for a few thousand immigrants?

      Well…How will we pay for your republican wars?
      The last two cost us $4 Trillion $
      And we have NOTHING to show for any of it.

      The Iraq war was lost by Bush before he left office – Iraq was a waste.
      We didn’t EVEN GET OIL OUT OF IT as the cynics thought we might!
      And Afghanistan was lost by Bush before he left office also.

      You big spending republicans ($4 Trillion!!! for nothing!!) are spurred by your religion and your pastors to kill as many people as you can in foreign countries on the back of the American Taxpayer.

      Pat Robertson, Billy Graham, Jerry Falwell – they love wars.

      At least democrats would put that money into people and the country’s infrastructure unfortunately you folks SPENT IT ALL on pathetic wars and incessant failure.

      4 Trillion $ on poorly designed wars
      to destroy terrorism and Al Queda in particular.
      And we failed (no surprise) because religion itself is the problem.

      Yes – religion poisons everything.

      • Chaplain Martin

        Well brother Max I wrote you “goodbye” in one of my comments some time ago, but I just have to take an opportunity to agree with you on something your wrote.
        To quote you: “Well…How will we pay for your republican wars?
        The last two cost us $4 Trillion $ And we have NOTHING to show for any of it.” I would add it cost thousands and thousands of military and citizens of Iraq and Afghanistan killed or maimed.

        I can only speak and my wife and some of our friends, but I (we) never believed that the U.S. should ever invade another country especially in the middle east. I am a firm believer in the triune God. Not by some brain washing but by a faith experience that still is lasting. Man I love you but your paint brush is a bit wide. By the way I voted republican once and have regretted every since.

        • @Chaplain Martin,

          Naturally the lost lives far outweigh the financial price – they always do. But I was pointing out to Lles Nats that MONEY seems to be no problem for republicans as long as it is spent with WILD MINDLESS ABANDON ON MILITARY ADVENTURES.

          Especially against Muslims (God knows!).

          If Atheists and Chaplains agree on a moral course of action
          someone should point out that morality must not therefore be coming from a God.

          I have agreed with almost all of your moral positions, Chaplain, and yet we both disagree with many holy rollers here at RNS.
          I would ask you to consider that many ‘holy’ positions fully endorsed by clergy, Theology and the Bible’s injunctions are not simply inhuman – but evil.

          19 people “of faith” destroyed 3,000 lives on 9/11
          by flying planes into some buildings.

          Instead of seeing a terrible irony in ‘faith’ and religion and dealing with the situation with skill and insight….

          Our MOST “Christian” of Presidents George W. Bush and his fiercely Christian Prayer circle of Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleeza Rice and others THRASHED the world with a RECKLESS RELIGIOUS CUDGEL:

          Destruction of Afghanistan and Iraq killing at least 350,000 people.
          Patriot Act, Guantanamo Bay Prison,
          Black Ops, Mercenary Armies, NSA wiretaps, Sanction of Torture…etc.

          Only a religious mind would respond to religion WITH MORE RELIGION!
          God is not only unreal – he is a nightmare to humanity.

          • Chaplain Martin

            Bro. Max
            In an substance abuse recovery meeting a man was talking to his sponsor about the fact that the steps included the phrase, “the God of my understanding.” The man said he couldn’t do that because he believed God was a hateful and condemning God. The sponsor said: “Why don’t you borrow my God for a while, mine’s loving and forgiving.” While that’s quite a concept, I’ll stick with the God of my understanding. Maybe, just maybe the problem is not with God but our understanding of God.

          • @Chaplain Martin,

            I like the way you think – I’m not against you.

            Why? You resist the God of the Bible, Yahweh:
            You reject the Yahweh God who wrote Genesis and Leviticus.
            You reject the Yahweh God who ‘wrote’ Numbers, Deuteronomy and the commandments to enslave, commit genocide and to rape.

            You reject the God who threatened rape
            as proper punishment – (not to punish the wives for they are worthless – but the husbands) as in:

            Yahweh THREATENS Raping in broad daylight
            
”Thus says the Lord: ‘I will bring evil upon you out of your own house. I will take your wives [plural] while you live to see it, and will give them to your neighbor. He shall LIE WITH YOUR WIVES in broad daylight. You have done this deed in secret, but I will bring it about in the presence of all Israel, and with the sun looking down.’ ”
            (2 Samuel 12:11)


            Imagine?
            It is a far cry from Love your neighbor
            To also threatens to Rape Your Neighbor in broad daylight!


            ——

            Suppose HITLER had a son who was a nice guy.
            Suppose the son said:
            “Follow my commands and LOVE MY FATHER, Hitler, and you will be worthy of my love.”

            What sense would that make?
            How could any formulation that includes Yahweh God be moral?

            If we can pretend that God is loving – then I am with you!
            I’m all for it!
            I share your longing for love – show me the evidence this God of Love is real and I’ll even go to church!

            But then you must throw out ‘He is Risen’ and “Eat of my body” and “Believe or you will be condemned”.

            Jesus cannot be the love – He cannot be a moral option.

    • Chaplain Martin

      Lles Nats:”How are we going to pay for them all?” I’ll tell you, part of it is in the article and the rest can and I hope will come from people of good will. When government failed in Katrina many, many church, community, service organizations and individuals came in to the mess the various governments made and are making a difference even as I write to help New Orleans recover.

      “In 2014, we see citizens of Murrieta, Calif., turning back buses of women and children headed for a federal processing center, a day after Mayor Alan Long told them to let the government know they opposed its decision.”–Sister Mary Ann Walsh

      Gee buses turned away from that liberal bastion of California with an angry crowd calling “USA, USA”. Yet down here in the “bad”, deep south are helping the mostly children who made a very dangerous journey to get to this Land of the Free. The Catholic congregations are doing what they are called to do and I’m sure they are helped by non-catholic sources.

      • The Great God Pan

        Murrieta, CA is solidly Republican. It is represented by the GOP in the House, the Senate and the State Assembly. So much for your “liberal bastion” theory.

        • Nobody ever said nativists were intelligent or cared about facts.

          Most of their arguments are based on ignorance of the laws they allegedly want to uphold or just warmed over bigotry.

    • How do we pay for illegal immigrants?

      They pay for themselves.

      They are a net gain for the country in general. Inexpensive labor which employers do not pay benefits for and cannot use most social services.

      The reason conservative politicians don’t want sane immigration reform is because many large businesses have been exploiting illegal labor for decades. Plus, appeals to ignorance and bigotry never go out of style.

      The fools blocking the buses are only making it easier for people to exploit the illegals. There is no thinking among that crowd. Merely knee jerk panic

      • Again, you openly lie.

        They don’t pay for themselves. Hell. They are given free tuition in some cases. And when they are, I say this super amazing country then has no right moral standing to disallow default on student loans as a matter of economic policy.

        • Hardly. The only liar is yourself.

          The “cost” of illegal immigration labor is lower costs goods and products we are paying for. A group of people who do not get social services but pay sales taxes on everything they buy and contribute to property taxes where they live (as all renters do). They don’t qualify for welfare or food stamps.
          http://www.tolerance.org/immigration-myths

          Not one thing you said is remotely correct. They are given state resident tuition rates in some states, not free tuition. You have no idea what you are talking about.

          • So you are sayinf no illegal has ever gone to a public school or an emergency room?

          • Free tuition? That was a flat out lie and I wasn’t the only one to call you out on it.

            As I said, illegal aliens are paying into the system. They are contributing to the property taxes which prop up the public school and emergency rooms.

            Unlike US citizens, they have to work and earn money to survive here since they do not get life sustaining welfare, food stamps or housing benefits. Making them a net gain for the country. They would be an even greater one if immigration laws were far less draconian (making them easy to exploit for cheap labor).

            Most of the problems with illegal immigrants can be solved by reducing the penalty for illegal crossing/visa overstay to a stiff fine. If they can pay, they can stay. Deporting only the least productive. This way the punishment also is proportional to the offense. It is certainly saner than the status quo (which will not work no matter how much money is dumped into ICE and illegal draconian local measure) and certainly serving the purpose of weeding out people who do not contribute to the country.

    • If Catholic priest and nuns want to open the doors to illegal aliens then they should put their money where there mouth is and pay all the expenses now for the future of these people.

      They gripe about artificial birth control but I do not see the nuns and bishops taking care of all the poor.

  2. Where is that phony no-good President when you need him? Okay, Mr. Barack Obama, I dare you to get on this RNS thread right now, and explain YOUR miserable failure of leadership on this issue!!!!

    • This is such nonsense:

      Jesus states: “Whatever you do for these, the least of my brethren, you do also for me.”

      Really?
      Do we need to go back to this primitive bauble
      from the Bronze Age to know what is right and wrong!?

      Must we do this ‘for Jesus’?
      Because last I checked, your God (JESUS) is supposedly
      the one arranging for these poor people to suffer this disaster
      and struggle over the border in the first place!

      Why bring the perpetrator of a crime into the solving of it ?
      Incoherent BS!

      • But Jesus isn’t the guy being given a free pass by the media for this big-time tragedy with the children. OBAMA is getting the free pass, and you are going along with it.

        Since Obama claims that he is a Christian, you should be aiming all your “Jesus” statements at HIM.

        Tell Obama to go visit one of those border detention camps so he can tell those kiddies, face to face, how he’s going to help them die!

        • Obama is an atheist. Like you.

          But he is a politician trying to get things accomplished.
          You are a cynic who knows ‘eternal life’ would just be ‘eternal whining’.

  3. The US is not the answer to the problems of Middle and South America. We can’t even take care of our own citizens. The border needs to be closed today.

    • Why can’t we take care of our own citizens? Because we have people who don’t want our government to do that. They want to merely enrich themselves at the cost of the public.

      These are the same people who want to keep an underground economy of cheap labor around intentionally or not.

      • Obama bought most of the Latino votes with easy promises of “immigration reform.” He made it sound like he was going to make it easier on them, unlike those bad cruel Republicans.

        Obama made it sound so simple. Latinos took the Liar-In-Chief at his word.

        But now look what happened. Obama got what HE wanted, but the Latino kiddies who crossed over, have got NOWHERE to go except dead.

        Obama’s a whole lot closer to YOUR religion than to mine, Larry, so what do you have to say for YOUR lying president?

        • @Doc Anthony,

          You are outrageous. such hypocrisy. And so fascist.

          LAW #1 – “Women MUST have their babies, no contraception is allowed”
          LAW #2 – “Throw these babies back to mexico, we don’t want them.”

          Typical hornet’s nest of inhuman misery and nonsense
          from the religious mind!

          • I think you are misapplying the term fascist in this case.

            And law one is intended to protect human life from irresponsible mothers. Law to further reinforces the mothers responsability to the child.

            If an adult is responsible enough to have sex they should also try to be responsible enough to deal with whatever happens as a result despite the environment they live in. Calling upon a giant state to assist aperson to skirt those natural consequences of their own actions by taking my money only hurts my freedom, and creates a imbalance in thr natural order of society.

          • Not really. Most of the anti-immigration proposals really take a page from the fascist playbook:
            1. Requiring ID on one’s person to travel between states
            2. Removing the citizenship of people born in this country (“anchor baby” measures)
            3. Police given free reign to stop people based on ethnicity
            4. Creating concentration camps of undesirables based on ethnic/national origins.

            “And law one is intended to protect human life from irresponsible mothers.”

            But not protect the lives of born people like mothers or the life of children once they are born. Your concern of life only extends to gestation period. After that, its just finger pointing and moralizing. Most importantly, its none of your business to begin with. Not your body, never your decision.

            “Calling upon a giant state to assist aperson to skirt those natural consequences of their own actions by taking my money only hurts my freedom, and creates a imbalance in thr natural order of society.”

            Yet you want the government to do that. Just small enough to fit in a womb. The natural consequences of removing options for contraception and abortion. A situation moralizing nabobs like yourself create in the first place. Conservatives never look to solutions, just who to shift blame to for problems they contribute to.

          • @Lles Nats,

            You said, “If an adult is responsible enough to have sex they should also try to be responsible enough to deal with whatever happens as a result”

            *THEY SHOULD*
            THAT IS THE FASCIST TALKING.
            Think about whether someons sex life is any of your business before you decide to claim who SHOULD and SHOULD NOT act on sexual desires.

            “Calling upon a giant state to assist a person to skirt those natural consequences of their own actions by taking my money only hurts my freedom, and creates a imbalance in the natural order of society.”

            Nothing is more natural than sex.
            Contraception is what is needed – not your finger wagging!
            Religion adds nothing to the solution and everything to the problem!

  4. As someone who lives in TX its funny the cities she praises are actually little crap holes that resemble mexico and not the USA. And everyone of them has bishops and priests who subscribe to liberation theology. This isnt about taking care of children it’s about kids being used in a cloward and piven plot to overwhelm the system and turn america into a truly socialist society, which the church is in favor of, because it can longer tell the difference between forced charity and theft.

  5. This is amusing. Let’s blame the people for wanting their government to protect themselves and their way of life from a swarm of people who are coming, at the invitation of Obama, to live in the United States. If Obama would enforce immigration law, if you would seal the boarder this would not be a problem and we would not be in crisis.

    This nuns views are naïve.

    Here is what’s funny…..Obama and company attack the Catholic Church with regularity….contraception mandate, efforts to undermine the seal of confession, abortion and on and on. Obama disrespects religion by panning the National Day of Prayer and in dozens of other ways. But the administration is now likening the flood of minor immigrants on our board to “Jesus” What duplicitous X#%@^&$*.

    • ” If Obama would enforce immigration law, if you would seal the boarder this would not be a problem and we would not be in crisis. ”

      Obama has had more people deported than people than all other presidents. You can peddle that partisan fiction elsewhere.
      http://www.thenation.com/article/179099/why-has-president-obama-deported-more-immigrants-any-president-us-history#

      As for sealing the border, it hasn’t worked in 100 years of trying. It never will. But it shows the kind of knee-jerk ignorance common to nativist arguments.

      National Day of Prayer has always been a conservative shilling event.

  6. They could probably live off the wasteful throwaway American garbage .We have never been anything but a greedy use the world’s resources and throwaway everything country. Chickens come home to roost and thank God Catholic Social services is listening .Wake up hating poor people is just a show to keep you from noticing you are being ripped off bigtimeby big business and American medical groups

    • They call it THE FLOCK for a reason!

      The American religion is Corporate Christian Oligarchy
      Its salesman is FOX news.
      Its leaders are EVANGELICAL AND CATHOLIC ‘servants’.
      America is a nation of religious suckers.

      Religion is ruining America.

  7. These buses should be turned away at our border. Nothing in Scripture justifies defying one nation’s sovereignty and rule of law, to allow hundreds of thousands of illegals to enter our country and leech our resources. Sister, if you care that much about them, go and live and work among them. Oh, and get a job so you can give everything you earn to support them. These people are using their youth as bait to enter the US. They do not appear to be malnourished or beaten, or worn out from a thousand-mile journey. They have come to reap where they have not sown, and to take what they have not earned. Our country cannot care for the 300 million who are already here. If you need a mission field, go to San Diego, or San Francisco, or Chicago. The needy in these cities are already inside our borders.

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