There are times when one reads something in a newspaper that seems so bizarre that you question if it is true. Sadly I had that experience this morning when the NY Times reported on the Ku Klux Klan distributing hate mail in Hampton Bays! The KKK or some affiliate of “White Knights” in our Diocese and one of our towns!

I am grateful to those in Hampton Bays including the staff at Centro Corazon de Maria for their prompt rejection of this ghastly attempt to create division, hatred and possibly inspire violence in a wonderful community like Hampton Bays. May I add my voice to theirs in a strong condemnation of any racist or separatist group, whether they don their hoods under the name of KKK or anything similar to it. Our towns and villages must be places of acceptance and mutual respect for all persons and families that wish to live here, work in our communities, abide by our laws and raise families that reflect the common truths and values that make good communities and a healthy society.

Certainly no Catholic could in good conscience support such hate groups and all Catholics are called to be one in extending the hand of friendship to all our neighbors, be they here for generations or only recently arrived. In turn, just as we are responsible for the common good, we rightly can ask our neighbors to live by and share those values and participate in our towns and villages, exercising the same sense of participation in the community for the good of each person and the common good of all.

Through the years I have several times addressed various issues surrounding the question of new peoples in our country and in our Diocese. This is a many faceted issue that we cannot address  in a partial or one-sided fashion. Much of the responsibility rests with the federal government which must regulate the safety of our borders and the ordered entry into our country for those who seek to come here for a variety of reasons. In the first years of this century good attempts at a comprehensive reform of immigration laws and customs were defeated by a bipartisan coalition. Today no branch of our government seems ready to address the problems in a fair, coherent and just manner.

My brother bishops and I have been clear in our position on comprehensive immigration reform that addresses ALL aspects of the challenges we face. I have asked Catholic Charities and the Public Policy Advisory Committee of the Diocese to help me understand the issues better so that in turn we as Catholics together can make a valid contribution to resolving these issues. This is incumbent not just on a priest or a religious or a bishop. We all, as men and women of the Church, must witness to the truth of the Gospel and help find ways to resolve the challenges before us. And we can never cease to pray, pray for one another, pray for an end to hatred and discrimination, pray for our political leaders and pray that God’s grace may illumine all our hearts and give us wisdom to belong more deeply to Christ, His Church and to one another.