American Catholicism, Xenophobia and Immigration

Posted by Caitlin Joyce, ’11, ‘18 on Wednesday, January 31, 2018 at 2:23 PM PST

The Catholic Heritage Lectures began eight years ago as a platform to discuss topics relevant to Catholics and society at large. Now the lecture series is housed under Seattle University’s Institute for Catholic Thought and Culture, with the series focusing on a different theme each year.  This year’s Catholic Heritage Lectures’ theme is “That We May Be One: Racial Justice and the Catholic Church.”

Following the fall lecture, which explored the racial divide within the Catholic Church, the winter quarter lecture brings together diverse panelists who will examine “American Catholicism, Xenophobia and Immigration.” The topic opens up conversation about xenophobia and the history of Catholic immigration to the United States. The panelists will explore both the Catholic Church’s rich theological and spiritual teaching to welcome the stranger, as well as its complicity as institution and community in xenophobia. We sat down with Dr. Catherine Punsalan-Manlimos, director of the Institute of Catholic Thought and Culture, to get a deeper look at this year’s topic and its relevance to the Catholic community.

“We plan the lecture themselves at last a year in advance and try to get a sense of salient social issues that are surfacing both on campus and in our country. With the rise in discourse around the Black Lives Matter Movement, immigration, and troubling attitudes towards Islam, it just seemed important for us to engage the issue of racial justice in the Catholic Church,” Catherine said. “The Church has had something to say about this issue so we want to see what that is, while acknowledging that the Catholic Church has much work to do. There’s just so much to address with this topic. For example, how xenophobia exists in the church, and how Catholics have been victims of xenophobia and the important role the Catholic Church has played in fighting for the rights of immigrants; these topics are very close to the heart of Pope Francis.”

The panelists for this winter’s lecture include:

Dr. Laurie Cassidy, PhD, is a theologian and spiritual director who explores how Christian mysticism can be a resource for personal and social transformation, and what it means to be a Catholic of Irish descent exploring issues of whiteness.

Dr. Arturo Chavez, PhD, is the president of the Mexican American Catholic College in San Antonio Texas, and is nationally recognized for his efforts to combat racism and poverty.

Dr. Catherine Punsalan-Manlimos will frame and facilitate the evening.

When asked what she hoped people would take away from the lecture, Catherine said, “The understanding that whoever we are, unless we are indigenous to this land or descendants of enslaved people brought here against their will, we share something in common with new immigrants ­– stories of migration. The fear of the stranger, the one who is different, is part of the history of this country since its colonization. We can’t assume we know who the newly arrived immigrant is based on the color of their skin. The evening will be an opportunity for people to understand the complexities of this country’s immigration narratives and learn about the resources within the Catholic tradition that remind us the call ‘to welcome the strangers because we were once strangers on this land.’”

You can learn more about the winter lecture here. This lecture is free and open to everyone in the community, even if you have not attended previous ICTC lectures in the series.

American Catholicism, Xenophobia and Immigration
Thursday, February 22, 2018
7 p.m.
Pigott Auditorium