Head of U.S. bishops’ conference on welcoming migrants

By Joyce Duriga
Sunday, October 16, 2016

As part of his Sept. 19-22 visit to Kentucky on behalf of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Bishop John Manz met with Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, who is president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Archbishop Kurtz took a few moments to discuss the importance of ministering to migrants.

Catholic New World: Why do we as a church care about needs of the U.S. migrant community?

Archbishop Joseph Kurtz: Let me begin by saying we are a church of immigrants. Every one of us can trace back into our personal histories the way in which we were welcomed.

In fact, Jesus himself was an immigrant. He went with Mary and Joseph to Egypt. He came back and he is someone who knew what it meant to be welcomed as well as to welcome.

So the church at our best is a church that welcomes and that gives people an opportunity for a better life and to use the gifts that they have in service to others. I see our commitment as a church throughout the United States as being, first of all, one in which we are aware that when people are placed in our lives that’s God giving us an opportunity.

The efforts we’re making for immigration reform, the efforts in which we not only welcome but call everyone to responsibility, which, of course, God gives us the gift of, is something that’s going to make all of us stronger.

I’m very grateful. I’m also grateful I have a chance every once in a while to see all of the great work that’s being done in the Archdiocese of Louisville.

Catholic New World: Some people fear those who are a part of these migrant communities. Why isn’t that a good response?

Archbishop Joseph Kurtz: In many ways we live in a dangerous world. Bad things do happen. People want to protect their families and loved ones. That’s a very normal and natural thing.

What I have found in my own life, when I actually meet someone and put a face to a group or situation it changes the whole complexion. Instead of it being some abstract, distant understanding I’m now talking about a real person and, quite honestly, as I get talking to people I see my life in them. I see they also bring fears and opportunities.

The only way we can build a community based on the common good is for each of us to call one another to responsibility. It means that we give opportunities. It means that equally we find ways to reach out to help one another. I think the work of Catholic Charities and the work of our parishes has been good in that welcoming process.


  • immigration
  • immigration reform
  • undocumented workers

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