Mercy is the willingness to enter into the chaos of another. - James Keenan, SJ
The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church was drawn up at the request of Pope John Paul II, in order to give a concise but complete overview of the Church's social teaching. Should you want to do further reading, the compendium cites the various other Church documents (up to the year 2006) from which these positions are pulled.
The full document is available on the Vatican website, and will jump to a particular section if you click on a menu item. You can find it here: Vatican.va - Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church
The PDF version below eliminates the strange orange background from the Vatican website, and so can be easily read or printed.
The following are excerpts from the report “Unlocking Human Dignity: A Plan to Transform the U.S. Immigrant Detention System” from the USCCB and the Center for Migration Studies:
Detention is treated as a pillar of the U.S. immigration enforcement system akin to border control or removal, but in fact it is a means to an end that would be far better served by a more humane, less costly system. Its purpose is to ensure that non-citizens in removal proceedings appear for their hearings and, if they are removable and lack legal relief, that their removal can be effected... In fact, there are tested, effective, and humane ways to accomplish these goals short of detention. Supervised or conditional release programs have long been a mainstay of the criminal justice system, but have only recently begun to gain traction in the immigration context.
DHS-ICE does not have the authority to incarcerate immigrants. Instead, its authority is limited to holding non-citizens during the adjudication and removal process. Yet the U.S. detention system has long operated like a prison system, but without the benefit of civil rights case law or the same levels of proficiency and professionalism as most correctional systems.
A delegation, led by the archbishop of San Antonio, entered the new facility, a model for the Department of Homeland Security. Nothing seemed amiss and the facilities were clean and spacious. As the Archbishop said Mass under a tent in the compound, the fear and trepidation on the faces of the mothers were clear. One by one, they prayed aloud for deliverance from the facility and for reunification with their families. Many had been traumatized from their journey north from Central America. One confessed that her husband had been murdered by gang members and that they had threatened her and her children as well. After the Mass, many asked for assistance with their asylum claims, as they had no lawyers to assist them and little information from enforcement officials about the process. Please help us, please pray for us, they asked. The delegation walked out deflated and frustrated, awake to the damage caused by the facility, despite its outward appearance.
Pray: Download a short prayer service to pray within your homes
Learn: Read the full USCCB report and reflect
Dig in to Pope Francis' recent encyclical on the environment with weekly saint quotes, a chapter to read, a challenge, and age-appropriate knowledge points for children!
While encyclicals are not infallible, as Catholics we are required to carefully and faithfully consider what a pope writes in such a document. Pope Francis himself has done a great job of explaining how care for creation must tie in to everything else we believe:
A sense of deep communion with the rest of nature cannot be real if our hearts lack tenderness, compassion and concern for our fellow human beings. It is clearly inconsistent to combat trafficking in endangered species while remaining completely indifferent to human trafficking, unconcerned about the poor, or undertaking to destroy another human being deemed unwanted. This compromises the very meaning of our struggle for the sake of the environment. It is no coincidence that, in the canticle in which Saint Francis praises God for his creatures, he goes on to say: “Praised be you my Lord, through those who give pardon for your love”. Everything is connected. Concern for the environment thus needs to be joined to a sincere love for our fellow human beings and an unwavering commitment to resolving the problems of society.
- Laudato Si', section 91
As a parish, then, hopefully we can read, carefully consider, and tackle some of the issues he brings up. Below is a list of each week's study materials!
pdf A Primer on Social Justice Encyclicals (184 KB) - Read to understand the history and development of what popes have been writing on social topics since 1891.