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ACHTUS/BCTS Statement on the Treatment of Families at the USA/Mexico Border (A Spanish Version Follows the English)
21 June 2018

We, the board of the Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians of the United States and the Executive Committee of the Black Catholic Theological Symposium, reiterate previous ACHTUS statements in support of just, comprehensive, and humane immigration reform. We also reiterate previous BCTS statements about the dangerous ways racism has shaped the Trump administration’s rhetoric about immigration.

In the strongest terms, we denounce the Trump administration’s recent decisions to criminalize asylum-seekers, to increase detention and deportation of unauthorized residents, and to separate migrant children from their parents. We decry the use of children for political gain while inflicting pain on families. We also denounce the use of tents, in the richest country on earth, to house any person held in detention.

We denounce the use of Christian scriptures in order to legitimize cruelty and violence. Furthermore, we reject the use of biblical arguments to support institutional violence against migrants and refugees.

We lift up those traditions within the Bible that measure justice according to society’s care for those most vulnerable, God’s little ones (e.g., widows, orphans, displaced persons).

Additionally, we affirm Catholic teaching regarding the human right to migrate.

Therefore, we support legislation and policies that sustain union between all loved ones crossing any of our international borders, and we will work toward achieving this goal.

(Declaración en español)

Nosotros, los miembros de la Junta Directiva de la Academia de Teólogos Católicos Hispanos de los Estados Unidos (ACHTUS, por sus siglas en inglés) y el Comité Ejecutivo del Simposio Teológico Católico Afro-Americano (BCTS, por sus siglas en inglés), reiteramos previas declaraciones de ACHTUS que apoyan una reforma migratoria justa, comprensiva y humanitaria. También reiteramos previas declaraciones de BCTS sobre las maneras peligrosas en las que el racismo permea gran parte de la retórica del presidente Trump con respecto a la inmigración.

Denunciamos de manera contundente la decisión reciente de la administración del presidente Trump de criminalizar a aquellos que buscan asilo y refugio, de aumentar la detención y deportación de residentes no autorizados, y de separar a niños inmigrantes de sus padres. Condenamos el uso de niños y niñas para efectos políticos, causando al mismo tiempo un gran daño a sus familias. También censuramos que en el país más rico del mundo se usen carpas para albergar a cualquier persona que esté detenida.

Denunciamos el uso de las Escrituras cristianas para legitimar la crueldad y la violencia. Además, rechazamos el uso del lenguaje bíblico para apoyar cualquier clase de violencia institucional contra los migrantes y refugiados.

Realzamos aquellas tradiciones bíblicas que miden la justicia según la manera cómo la sociedad protege a los más vulnerables, a los pequeños de Dios (por ejemplo, las viudas, los huérfanos y las personas desplazadas).

Además, reafirmamos las enseñanzas de la doctrina social de la Iglesia Católica que garantizan el derecho del ser humano a migrar.

De esta manera, apoyamos esfuerzos de legislación y políticas que preserven la unidad de seres queridos que cruzan cualquier frontera internacional, y trabajaremos arduamente para alcanzar dicha meta.

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ACHTUS/BCTS Statement Regarding the Most Recent Surge in Racist Hate Crimes in the United States
4 September 2017

In the wake of the horrific events of Charlottesville Va. on August 11-12, 2017, and the deeply troubling displays of hate speech, neo-Nazi and white supremacist ideologies, the recent pardoning of former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, and the battle over the “sanctuary cities” law in Texas, the leadership of the Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians of the United States (ACHTUS) and the Black Catholic Theological Symposium (BCTS) stand in solidarity as one body, with one voice to condemn the systemic violence, racism and legitimized hatred that diminish the integrity of the United States of America. We call for a united front of human dignity and civil rights for all who call these United States home.

As sorrow fills our hearts for our brothers and sisters who have senselessly lost their lives to cowards who instill fear and provoke violence with impunity, our spirits are filled with hope as we vow to live in Love and advocate for Justice.

As Christians, we stand with the families and communities of our lost beloved. We are both comforted and led by the certain knowledge that in Christ we are all one body, in one Spirit: “If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it” (1 Corinthians 12:12-13; 26).

As global citizens we commit to “recognizing the inherent dignity and the equal inalienable rights of all members of the human family [as these are] foundations of freedom, justice and peace in the world”  (Preamble, UN Declaration of Human Rights).

We proclaim and teach anew the preamble of the US Constitution, establishing a more perfect Union built on Justice and the promotion of the common good.

Together as Catholic scholars and disciples, we recognize that much work, dialogue and healing lie ahead. As such, we commit to being prophetic voices for justice and peace by condemning violence, denouncing the sins of hatred and retrieving the redemptive nature of the cross as a way toward a common good.

We recognize the historical legacy of hate and oppression against black and brown folk in this nation. White supremacist attitudes, volatile and explosive words, and death-producing actions related to fascist movements, are not new phenomena in these United States of America. These stem from an enduring history and cycle of institutionalized racial prejudice and oppression. While this nation’s declaration of independence proposes “that all men [sic] are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with unalienable rights…,” still whiteness dominates in all sectors of society and remains the norm in the worldview of this country underscored initially by Christian principles. Normative whiteness and white privilege perpetuate and sustain racism, which does not lead to a so-called post-racial society. Instead racism grows on fertile ground where white supremacist racists feel emboldened to chant “blood and soil” in their quest to “Make America Great Again.”

A history of violence, racial oppression, and hatred runs counter to our longstanding biblical history and primary teachings in the Christian tradition. These sources promote the dignity and incomparable worth of all human beings who are social in nature. It is because of this that we are called to be in right relationships of justice and love with God, self, and others.

The membership of ACHTUS and BCTS, representing a wide array of academic and pastoral vocations, consistently dedicate our lives to the struggles for justice for black and brown peoples, and all the human family. Many of us pay a heavy price in our professional lives because the work of organizing, community action, and public theology are not viewed as worthy of the academic endeavor. In addition, racist and bigoted rhetoric, violence against black and brown bodies, and practices and politics that oppress black and brown folk significantly impact our membership in ways that go unacknowledged by the institutions in which we work.

Nevertheless, we persist in our efforts to organically make our intellectual pursuits relevant to the plight of black and brown folk, immigrants, Muslims, Jews, LGBTQ, and any other group persecuted and regarded as “less than” by the myth of white supremacy in all its expressions. In seeking to do more than simply react to this newest spate of hate through a letter or statement, we commit to the hard work of creating a joint document that will focus on race and racism in the theological academy and the nation. We commit to this joint project aware that this kind of hard work is often unrewarded by our institutions, and may even be detrimental to our professional lives. But we are convinced that there is no way forward other than to join our intellects and our souls to provide some guidance to the academy and the Church – both institutions that we love – in the effort to disrupt white supremacy and racism.

Lastly, as leaders of ACHTUS and BCTS, we commit to supporting our constituents in the ongoing work of:

  • Constructing theology that’s transformative, challenging, and hopeful, deeply grounded on the Incarnate love of God as it bears the marks of the experiences of our peoples;
  • Denouncing the ways that the myth of white supremacy in its current expressions do violence to the bodies, souls, and minds of our communities and this nation;
  • Shaping and leading communities of wholeness, hope, resilience, and radical welcome to the most vulnerable in our institutions, neighborhoods, nationally, and across borders;
  • Sustaining ourselves and each other through practices of self-care of mind, body, and soul that acknowledge our response to the command to love self as we love neighbor;
  • Joining others in actions of resistance and solidarity in our campuses, parishes, and communities.

Therefore, as we journey together in spirit and in truth may our combined voices give testament to the ongoing struggle for justice and be hope to our constituencies and communities that continue to work for a time when we truly will love one another.

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The Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians of the United States (ACHTUS) is an association of scholars dedicated to promoting research and critical theological reflection within the context of the U.S. Hispanic experience. Our work puts us directly in contact with the people who come to the United States in search of better opportunities and/or escaping persecution, war, environmental catastrophe, or famine. The experiences and perspectives of immigrants from Latin America and the Caribbean are at the heart of our work. This also makes us particularly attuned to their plight for better treatment, their quest for asylum via our shores and national borders, and their yearning to contribute to the common good of this new place they call home. As Christians, however, our very faith and sacred texts privilege care for immigrants and refugees as a sign of faithfulness and respect for the inherent dignity of every human life (for instance, see Lev. 19:10 or Matt. 25:35-40), read more…