Archbishop Patrick Pinder believes that Bahamas needs to become a regional leader, globally recognised and a “pacesetter” in dealing with the issue of illegal immigration. The issue, he believes, is not just a matter of public policy, but first, a matter of addressing public attitudes which so often drive public policy.
“We need a serious, sincere, national dialogue on illegal immigration. It should be led by government and it should include business, law enforcement, the legal profession and others, too. This dialogue will have to consider the rights of people to migrate to sustain their lives—and the prior right not to have to leave their country of origin,” Archbishop Pinder said in his homily on the occasion of Red Mass, January 7.
The annual observance is the occasion when the Church invokes the guidance of the Holy Spirit upon members of the judiciary and the legal profession.
Government officials and members of the bar and legal profession were among those gathered to celebrate at St Francis Xavier Cathedral, Nassau.
Archbishop Pinder has been the main celebrant for the past 14 years.
In his message, the archbishop shared that the public conversations of late have been very much about illegal immigration. The efforts of the Government to enforce the law in this regard, he said, “is certainly to be commended”.
“A country has a right to regulate its borders and to control immigration. At the same time, we need to be fully aware of the context in which we find ourselves,” he said.
The archbishop acknowledged that illegal immigraton is one of the oldest social problems in The Bahamas, older than the escalation of crime in general and drug trafficking in particular.
He posed this question to members of the legal profession: “What is a proper fitting and adequate national response to this longstanding reality of illegal immigration? In all honesty, how successful, in the long term, are the episodic round-ups and all they entail?”
The archbishop reminded those gathered that Bahamas has created a globally recognised brand for itself in the tourism industry, and “we need to bring a similar mindset to addressing our longstanding and stubborn social challenge of illegal immigration.”
“It will have to consider our right to regulate our borders and control immigration. It will also have to ensure that we regulate our borders with justice and mercy. The rights and dignity of all concerned must be respected. Then too, all the various illegal activities which accompany, aid and enable illegal immigration must be eradicated as much as possible.”
Earlier in his homily, the archbishop mentioned that marital rape, a “burning issue” in 2009 has come to the fore again in newspaper articles, opinion columns and letters to the editor.
He once again maintained that rape is never an act of love nor is it ever an act of intimacy. It is always an act of violence against the person. Like any act of violence, be it physical, verbal or otherwise, rape, he said, has no place in the communion of life and love which marriage properly understood.