By Judie Brown
The tragic deaths last week of Salvadoran immigrants Oscar Alberto Martinez Ramirez and his little daughter Valeria brought sadness to our nation. The photo of their bodies was a stark reminder of the ravages of the not-so-calm Rio Grande River and a reminder of human desperation.
In response to this tragedy, the United States Catholic bishops issued a statement that said: “This image cries to heaven for justice. This image silences politics. Who can look on this picture and not see the results of the failures of all of us to find a humane and just solution to the immigration crisis?”
How very true. But perhaps the most meaningful statement came from Dr. Robert Moynihan, who had his own spine-chilling experience with his sons while crossing this same river. Moynihan’s words encapsulate well what we as Catholics should remember: “May all of us re-dedicate ourselves to building a world where no fathers and daughters are tempted to risk a swim across a river to find a better life, where all of us together build such a better life, for each other, in this beautiful world God has given us to share.”
Yet as we contemplate this heartbreaking scene, we cannot help but wonder why so many Democratic presidential hopefuls are using this moment of grieving as a political opportunity to advance an immigration policy while also advocating for the wholesale killing of innocent preborn babies from creation to birth and beyond. These people are hypocrites—political opportunists who decry the plight of children who are born—yet they cannot stand the thought of protecting children preparing to be born. How this makes sense to anyone is beyond me!
And to make matters worse, six of them are Catholic. We know their names: Joe Biden, Kirsten Gillibrand, Beto O’Rourke, Julian Castro, John Delaney, and Tim Ryan. These people should be upholding the standard of truth and justice for all individual human beings—born and preborn. Instead, we see the same double standard that is prevalent among far too many in politics, the media, and academia these days, not to mention our churches.
When St. John Paul II spoke about illegal immigration in 1996, he told us: “Illegal immigration should be prevented, but it is also essential to combat vigorously the criminal activities which exploit illegal immigrants.” He encouraged solidarity with those in need, explaining to us that we should see Jesus in each of our fellow human beings.
Indeed, he spoke eloquently of our inherent dignity in the Gospel of Life one year earlier when he wrote:
Life is always a good. . . . The life which God gives man is quite different from the life of all other living creatures, inasmuch as man, although formed from the dust of the earth, is a manifestation of God in the world, a sign of his presence, a trace of his glory. This is what Saint Irenaeus of Lyons wanted to emphasize in his celebrated definition: “Man, living man, is the glory of God.” Man has been given a sublime dignity, based on the intimate bond which unites him to his Creator: in man there shines forth a reflection of God himself.
These words apply to every individual human being, born and preborn, no matter their status. But until this fact is consistently expressed in word and deed, in law and the culture, in families and in politics, we will continue to see cruel deaths by abortion and tragic circumstances among those who are desperate to find a better life.
Every single human being is a reflection of God, not just those who are politically convenient to defend.