CARITAS CORNER: The Gospel Call to Serve Those in Need
Andy Barton
/ Categories: Opinion, Commentary

CARITAS CORNER: The Gospel Call to Serve Those in Need

We live in an emotional time.  Our culture is increasingly shaped by those whose voices are the loudest and whose emotions are the strongest.  Loud voices and strong emotions are fine, but only if they are governed by reason and truth.

Immigration is a topic that triggers a strong emotional response for many people. Previously, Bishop Golka addressed “The Both/And of Immigration.”  In this issue he writes about the Church’s take on the common good. I’d like to share how Catholic Charities of Central Colorado works toward the common good and to dispel some myths about the work we do.

One of the central tenets of Catholic Charities’ mission is to help families journey from crisis to stability. When we do this, we answer God’s call to serve our neighbor.  When we care for the hungry, the cold, and the homeless, we help people journey from a place of desperation to a place where flourishing becomes possible. This serves the common good, and it does so by serving Jesus in the individual in front of us. 

That does not mean we ignore the challenges that impact society. One of the elements of the common good is peace, and for peace to be realized, security is necessary.

There are rumors circulating that Catholic Charities organizations are calling for open borders.  This is false. Catholic Charities USA published this statement on Feb. 7: 

“CCUSA will continue to emphasize the urgent need for serious, bipartisan reforms that prioritize the security of the border and the human dignity of those on both sides of it.”

No to open borders, yes to human dignity.

Another myth, this time closer to home, is that Catholic Charities of Central Colorado is being inundated with immigrants.

In Colorado Springs, over the last six months, Catholic Charities served an average of 2,500 unduplicated individuals each week. Approximately 25 of those per week were immigrants from outside the local area.

The fact that we are not serving large numbers of immigrants does not mean we do not care about them. Their plight is more precarious than many know, and their need for support is vital. 

For those who come here seeking asylum, one of the major challenges is work.  Current law bars asylum seekers from working during their first 180 days in the U.S.  The government provides a small measure of support for a short period of time; after that, asylum seekers either work “off the books,” or they seek help through organizations like Catholic Charities, or both.

A legitimate source of concern is some of those who enter the United States illegally are drug dealers, human traffickers, or terrorists.  However, it is a myth that Catholic Charities serves this violent criminal underclass.  Those engaged in criminal activities don’t seek a meal at the Marian House.  These criminals are well-financed, and they have no desire to risk entanglement with a community organization.

Some are also claiming that Catholic Charities organizations are complicit in moving immigrants from their country of origin to the U.S. border.  This is false.

What is true is Catholic Charities will facilitate moving asylum seekers to where they have a sponsor.  Some coming here have family already in the U.S., and when they can provide evidence that they have family in another location, Catholic Charities will try to reunite them with family.  After food and shelter, transportation is the greatest need of asylum seekers requesting support from Catholic Charities.

Whether one believes immigration should be banned or borders should cease to exist, Catholic Charities supports neither of those positions.  Catholic Charities’ position is rooted in the common good, and defined by the Catechism, which definitively states nations have a right to secure their borders and a duty to care for “foreigners” seeking a better life.

Setting aside the myths, what does Catholic Charities do for our local community?

In 2020, over 6,500 unduplicated individuals in the local area were supported.  In 2023, that number grew to over 12,500. In that same timeframe, the homeless population in Colorado Springs remained essentially unchanged at approximately 1,300.

The biggest increase in the need for support was primarily from the working poor — people whose wages remained steady, or dropped, during a period of the highest inflation in 40 years.  As rent and the cost of food went up, and wages were flat or fell, local families came to Catholic Charities seeking assistance.

The local challenge in early 2024 is not meeting the needs of the handful of immigrants who show up here; it is meeting the needs of an almost 100% increase in our neighbors needing assistance at the same time that COVID-era government financial support is drying up. 

You may have read in the last edition of the Herald about the over $600,000 shortfall in revenue Catholic Charities is experiencing. To close that gap, we have had no choice but to cut services at a time when there is greater need, and when outside funds to meet that need are eroding. As discussed here, over 99% of those supported by Catholic Charities of Central Colorado are local families in our community.

That data may or may not be compelling, but what should be compelling to all of us is a desire to know the truth, and a commitment to answer the Gospel call to serve those in need.  I welcome your support as we strive to do just that.

Previous Article Inaugural Colorado March for Life will take place April 12
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