Jesus Loves the Little Children

Those who have known me through the years have known that I believe and am willing to defend all that the Catholic Church teaches, whether in her doctrinal or social teaching. But the issue that has always been closest to my heart, the concern that most passionately moves me to action, is the defense of the life of the unborn. While I feel tremendous compassion and sympathy for the woman who finds herself to be expecting a child in a difficult situation, I see the assault on the life of the innocent unborn child as the most egregious attack on the dignity of the human person imaginable.

 

Lately, and quite a bit to my surprise, I have found myself in a position to speak out publicly on another issue—the issue of unaccompanied children crossing our southern border.   Like the unborn, these children are vulnerable to violence, both on their journeys and in their home countries, and the Church is obligated to defend the “least of these.”

 

Some have questioned why I would take a position more consistent with the Democratic view on the crisis than the Republican view, which looks to enforcement as a solution.  What some have difficulty grasping today is that the Church’s teaching is not beholden to any political ideology. The Catholic Church is neither Republican nor Democrat, Conservative nor Liberal.  The Church is called to defend the rights and dignity of all of God’s children, born and unborn, regardless of the political wisdom of the day.

 

For me, involvement in immigration issues, particularly in the question of how we should treat families and unaccompanied children who are fleeing to our border from Central America and Mexico couldn’t be more consistent  As I see it I have actually been speaking in the name of voiceless immigrants all along. Both the life issues and the questions relating to those fleeing to our border challenge us to ask how we are to receive the stranger; how are we to treat the one unknown to us.

 

Even today with technology making the world so small, so transparent, we still seem to struggle to recognize the frail human face of both the child within the womb and the child at the doorway of our Country. In both cases I believe it is fear that raises our defenses against these innocent ones.  Fear of the one who is unknown can even lead us to see the most helpless child as a threat–a threat to our way of life, to our health, to our financial well-being.

 

I would not suggest that we are obliged to keep every child that arrives at our border here indefinitely. Some will need to return home if they can do so in safety.  Likewise, the mother of an unborn child who doesn’t feel ready to raise a child is not obliged to keep the child. She may send the child to a loving family. What a radically different choice adoption is than choosing to violently bring an end to that child’s life!

 

I would implore the people of our nation to receive the child who is a stranger with love and to make that child’s well-being our first priority.  I think they could learn much from the response of the people of El Paso.  Living on the border with family on both sides we know that these children are not a cause for fear.

 

A willingness to give of ourselves for the sake of the most vulnerable is the measure by which we will be measured according to the one who said, “I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” (Matt. 25:35) Jesus also told us: “Whoever receives a child such as this in my name receives me.”  (Matt. 18:5)  Jesus surely loves the little children.  We are called to do the same.

 

+Mark J. Seitz, DD

Bishop of El Paso

July 15, 2014

Celebrations

8 responses to Jesus Loves the Little Children


  1. Jana Lutz

    AMEN!! These kids need comfort, food, clothes, someplace safe to sleep, and most of all, someone who is not going to hurt them anymore than they have already been hurt. They have had to grow up way to fast to the horrors no one, least of all a child, should have to be exposed to. Instead of loving surrogate parents they are being confronted with hoards of screaming adults carrying signs and threatening them with still more violence if they don’t go back to the hell they came from. As human beings we should all be ashamed of ourselves.

  2. Margaret Keating

    I hope that the bishops from other parts of the country will be vocal like Bishop Seitz about the pro-life immigration message.

  3. Thank you for writing; I found this blogpost via Twitter.

    My heart aches for those who’ve traveled these miles, especially the most vulnerable of our society–women and children–fleeing from violence in their home country. These treks are no serene, simple “walks in the park”; they carry their own risks. Yet, in desperation, hope for safety, and unity in family, they try.

    My heart also aches in words beyond “disappointment.” I am disappointed, saddened, frustrated and more, in the response of our “flag-waving” brothers and sisters in Murrietta, Calif., and elsewhere. For all the “rights” treasured on our soil, one of them is the right to due process. This very concept of “due process” is exactly what was denied the women and children in 3 buses that were forced to turn around in Murrietta. Even those who are arrested for a crime–even violent crimes–get “due process.” While “free speech” is also a right, must the right of “due process” become a permitted hypocrisy as we waive basic human rights in considering policy decisions?

  4. Liz Ridling

    Bishop Mark’s remarks here have caused me to change my opinion on the issue of so many unaccompanied minors entering the United States illegally. I realize I was considering this situation mainly from a political standpoint. It really bothered me though that I felt so differently than what the Catholic Church was saying. After reading Bishop Mark’s words here, I felt a change come over me. The two Bible verses at the end especially brought it all into focus for me. Thank you Bishop Mark for these words of wisdom.

  5. Alice Frantz, Ph.D.

    Beautifully stated! I’m praying. I would be happy to be a foster parent for one or two children to help.

  6. Candida Van Natta

    What can my family and other families like us do to help out? We have inquired about foster care possibilities but it seems that we are either in the wrong state or we don’t have the amount of beds available that are required. There are so many people who want to do the right thing and shelter these children but they are turned away, just as these children are.

  7. Magda y Hector Hidalgo

    Dear Bishop, Padre Mark:

    A long time ago I told you, you were the answer to our prayers and to this day you have not let us down.

    God bless you for speaking out on behalf of those who can’t speak for themselves.

    Mucho cariño desde Dallas,

    Magda y Hector

  8. Pat Arrazola

    Most Reverend Bishop Mark Seitz:

    Based on this inspiring blog and your defense of life’s homily at Santa Lucia last Saturday, I cannot give up being a sidewalk counselor which I have done for several years. I had planned to let the younger generation take my part, but because of your words, I cannot. Thank you for your prayers for the closing of the Hilltop abortion clinic in El Paso. If it does, I will move to the Santa Teresa abortion clinic.

    Thank you for speaking out so strongly for-life and supporting the sidewalk counselors.

    Sincerely,
    Pat Arrazola

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