A Diocese of Immigrants

Letter from Most Reverend Nicholas DiMarzio, PhD, DD
Bishop of Brooklyn

December 2016

In the Apostolic Letter of Pope Francis closing the Year of Mercy, our Holy Father begins with the words “Misericordia et Misera,” which were the words St. Augustine used in recounting the story of Jesus’ meeting with the woman caught in adultery (Jn 8:1-11). Saint Augustine describes the event by giving the two new names to Christ and the adulterers: “Mercy with misery.” Our Holy Father reminds us that although the Year of Mercy ends, the showing of mercy to those confronted with misery is important. The spiritual and corporal works of mercy, especially welcoming the stranger, are founded on the beatitudes that Jesus enunciated on the Mount; they are the best ways of evangelizing the world today.

This letter is written as comfort and support to the many immigrants — documented and undocumented — who find themselves in our diocese in Brooklyn and Queens and who at the present time find themselves in a miserable condition because of a change of the administration of our nation which has threatened many with deportation. There is no doubt that we need to restore sensible immigration policies in our nation, notwithstanding the need for security in our country which is compromised by the presence of 11 million undocumented persons. The deportation of these people will not guarantee security. We know that a wall between the United States and Mexico will not remedy the situation. As the poet Robert Frost said, “Walls do not make good neighbors,” and will not alone ensure security. Dialogue with our neighbors is most important. And the legalization of those already here who are well established and working is a critical necessity.

The Bishops of the United States, in solidarity with all immigrants, have pledged to advocate for just and equitable laws governing migration to our country. I, as your bishop, speak to you immigrants and to all members of our Church who stand ready to assist you and understand your plight. You, and the many of you who have American-born children, will be the subject of our advocacy and protection as far as we can offer it to you. Please be assured that we will always welcome the stranger amongst us, no matter what your legal status, and exhort the fellow members of our diocese in Brooklyn and Queens to do the same. The law of God takes precedence over human laws, and to this we must be witnesses.

As the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe is celebrated on December 12, you may be assured that we pledge our support and invoke the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of Mexico and Patroness of the Americas, to whose intercession we fly unto at this time of need.

Bishop DiMarzio’s Letter to Our Diocese of Immigrants (Spanish)