May 2006



Congregation of Holy Cross 
Southern Province
Enquiring Minds Want to Know.
But Knowing Minds Don't Enquire.
Vol. 17, No. 5


From the South Bend Tribune, May 4, 2006

Bible urges reaching out to immigrants, 'aliens,' pastor says

Tribune Staff Writer

Not "Love your neighbor." Not "Love your God." The most frequently repeated command in the Bible is "You shall not oppress the alien for you were once aliens in the land of Egypt," says the Rev. John Korcsmar, C.S.C., pastor of Dolores Church in Austin, Texas, and a national leader in congregational-based organizing.

Speaking in both Spanish and English to clergy and community members, Korcsmar recently discussed what the Bible has to say about immigration.

An estimated 100 people gathered in the basement of St. Adalbert Catholic Church, South Bend, to hear the talk and share a Mexican meal.

Korcsmar said a form of the command comes up 28 times in the Bible.

Hebrews in Egypt were considered to be the lowest of the low, Korcsmar said. They were excluded from society, and were considered to be those who didn't count, who didn't belong.

It was this group that God led into Sinai and made into a people, his people, Korcsmar said. God admonished them not to exclude others and called for a society where everyone's dignity is respected, Korcsmar said.

"It's a vision of an inclusive society."

Just as a good marriage requires more than a precisely even split of love and responsibility, society needs to look at whether the technical application of its laws will lead to a strong and vibrant community, he said.

One pastor at the talk spoke of Christians struggling to reconcile a desire to march alongside immigrants with concern that some immigrants broke the law to be in this country.

He noted that many Christians wonder, "What's wrong with coming in legally?"

It is practically impossible for "regular" Mexican citizens to enter this country legally, Korcsmar said, at least not within at least a decade of their first application.

Several people related why they came into this country illegally, emotionally recounting tales of separated families.

Sister Lilia Martinez, C.S.C., who works with the Austin Interfaith Organization in Texas, said that God created people equal, with love and power. Power is the capacity to act with others in your own interests. The church is one entity that can foster that capacity, she said.

Speakers are available to talk with area congregations about the Bible and immigration, the Rev. Christopher Cox of St. Adalbert said.

A unity parade will start at St. Adalbert Church at 10 a.m. on Saturday.

The priest also called on people to pray.

"Prayer is the most important thing we can do," Cox said.

Transforming Action through Power (TAP) recently formed to bring together area churches to make changes to strengthen the community, said the Rev. Chris Cox, C.S.C. of St. Adalbert Catholic Church, South Bend.
Besides co-sponsoring a talk about what the Bible says about immigration, TAP also counts co-hosting the workshop "Let Justice Roll Down: Economics Where People Matter" among its activities.
TAP urges policy- and decision-makers to help meet the needs of the most vulnerable in the community, Cox says.
The interdenominational organization currently has about a dozen churches as members, Cox says.
Funding comes from the U.S. Catholic Bishops' Catholic Campaign for Human Development, Cox says.
For more information on TAP, call Cox at (574) 288-5708.



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