Module 4: Assessing the complex realities of migration

Fall 2017 - Spring 2018:

Tuesday, August 1, 2017 to Thursday, May 31, 2018

How does one judge when the realities are so complex? In Chapter 5 “Developing an Evaluative, Ethical Framework,” students will explore migration in terms of Catholic Social Teaching and four key concepts – human dignity, stewardship, common good and preferential option for the poor.  With the benefit of a brief history of CST on migration, students will focus on the efforts of US and Mexican bishops to author their pivotal statement, “Strangers No Longer” and lay out the five rights that all migrants should have.    

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Course materials

Learning Objectives

Apply the four key concepts underlying Catholic Social Teaching to an evaluation of the complexities of and the debate about immigration.  

Understand the issues of justice that are raised by the global economic order’s impact on migration. 

Develop an ethical framework informed by stewardship from which to view migration.


Module resources are being added and are subject to further changes.

Primary Resources

Dignity: Scriptures and Quotations


Life and Dignity of the Human Person.  The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) quotes paragraph 11 of St. John Paul II’s Centesimus annus.  Published: May 1, 1991. 


Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota reflects on dignity and quotes paragraph 27 of Vatican Council II, Gaudium et spes.  Published: 1965.

The Spiritual Dimension - Guiding Principles


The Ten Principles of the Common Good.  Source: Center of Concern, University of Notre Dame.  Published: 2008.  9 pages.  


Guiding Principles of Catholic Relief Services.   


United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Seven Themes of Catholic Social Teaching.


“If the term alien is to be used at all, it has little to do with one who lacks political documentation, but more with those who have so disconnected themselves from their neighbor in need that they fail to see in the eyes of the stranger a mirror of themselves, the image of Christ and the call to human solidarity,” concludes author, Daniel G. Groody, in “Theology in the Age of Migration.”  Source: National Catholic Reporter.  Published:  September 14, 2009. 

The Human Dimension and Dilemma


In an Immigration Court that Nearly Always Says No, a Lawyer’s Spirit Is Broken.” The surge in immigrants from Central America is making the variations already present across the 58 immigration court venues more stark.  This “reflect(s) the backgrounds of immigrants seeking reprieve, the availability of lawyers to help, and the views of local judges.”  Author: Chico Harlan.  Source: Washington Post, Business Section.  Published: October 11, 2016. 


Why Don't Unauthorized Migrants Come Here Legally?  Issue Briefing Series #1, issued by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Migration and Refugee Services.  Prepared by Cynthia M. Smith, Esq., Policy Advisor, Office of Migration Policy & Public Affairs.


11 Things You May Not Know About Refugees.  Author:  Megan Gilbert.  Source: Catholic Relief Services.  Published February 1, 2017.  



Messages from the Catholic Church Concerning Migration


Read the Message of the Holy Father Pope Francis (2014) ‘Migrants and Refugees: Towards a Better World in celebration of 2014 World Day of Migrants and Refugees.  From the Vatican, September 24, 2013.  Pages 5 – 7.  Provided by Catholic Legal Immigration Network.  


Cardinal O’Malley argues why the pastoral visit of Pope Francis to Juarez, on the US-Mexican borders “will be seen in a broader perspective than the United States and Mexico alone. … (Further,) US immigration policy must combine compassion and safety.”  Source: Crux.  Published: February 18, 2016. 


Strangers No Longer Together on the Journey of Hope //Juntos En El Camino De La Esperanza Ya No Somos Extranjeros.  Issued by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and Conferencia del Espicopado Mexicano.  Published: January 22, 2003.  


CRS Welcomes Court’s Block of Refugee Ban; Calls For More Humane Approach.  Author English version: Nikki Gamer.  Author Spanish version: Jossie Flo Sapunar.  Posted: February 11, 2017

Catholic Social Teaching and Migration


The Holy See’s Perspective on Catholic Social Teaching and Migration.  Author:  Michael A. Blume, SVD, Undersecretary, Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People.  Source: USCCB website.  


In his commentary, Omar Gutiérrez guides Catholics to Pope St. John XXIII and his “three steps for living the social teaching: ‘Look, judge, act (Mater et Magistra, 236)” in evaluating President Trump’s Executive Order on Refugees, issued late January 2017. Source: National Catholic Register. Published: February 3, 2017.


Catholic Social Teaching on Immigration and the Movement of Peoples  


Secondary Resources

Additional Readings

Brazal, Agnes M. and Maria Teresa Davila, ed. Living With(Out) Borders: A Christian Ethic of Immigration. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2016.

Groody, Daniel G. Border of Death Valley of Life: An Immigrant Journey of Heart and Spirit. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2002.

Groody, Daniel G. and Giocchino Campese, ed. A Promised Land a Perilous Journey: Theological Perspectives on Migration. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2008.

Heyer, Kristin E. Kinship across Borders: A Christian Ethic of Immigration. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2012

O’Brien, David J. and Thomas A. Shannon. Catholic Social Thought: The Documentary Heritage. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1992

Strangers No Longer Together on the Journey of Hope//Juntos En El Camino De La Esperanza Ya No Somos Extranjeros. Issued by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and and Conferencia del Espicopado Mexicano. Published: January 22, 2003.