I was a brand new Catholic when Bishop Joe Vasquez was appointed to my Diocese. I didn’t know anything about him. Was he going to be a good shepherd? Would he be able to stand against the issues facing our community with love and compassion but without fear of speaking the truth? I didn’t know. But someone I trust did know. My RCIA director, Noe, knew Bishop Joe Vasquez from his days as a parish priest in San Angelo. Having Noe Rocha’s approval meant a lot to me because I know for a fact that meant that my new Bishop knew Jesus and lives the Gospel.
The years since his appointment have shown me that Bishop Joe (as we, his sheep, lovingly call him) is a very good man of God. He is kind, introverted but very outspoken when it comes to defending the dignity of the human person and preaching the Gospel. I have heard his homilies at confirmations and other events around our diocese and he is the real deal. My daughter was his biggest fan when she was a little girl and insisted on taking a picture with him every chance she got, he always welcomed the chance to give her a blessing when she asked.
The people in my diocese love him because he speaks out on abortion. But lately he is getting some backlash as the head of the USCCB Committee on Migration since he is speaking out against the Executive Order signed by President Trump, and also he is opposing SB4 in Texas. I don’t understand how Catholics who know the Church’s teachings can oppose the words of Bishop Joe when it comes to the issue of immigration. He is a good Bishop who doesn’t support anything that goes against Church teaching. I know this issue is not as black and white as the issue of abortion. A country has every right to secure it’s borders and at the same time has an obligation to treat people with dignity and respect, that is a difficult balance to find, I get that, but some things are obviously an insult to the dignity of the human person. Dividing up families because a mother has been in this country for twenty years without documents and got a speeding ticket, is not upholding the dignity of the family.
I see people who claim that it is cafeteria Catholicism to pick and choose which teachings of the Church to follow finding their own corner in that cafeteria. They do not understand that what makes abortion wrong, more than anything, is that it is a violation of the dignity of the unborn person. Yes, the unborn are more innocent than an adult who comes to this country illegally to make a better life for their family, but at the core of the immigration issue is the dignity of the human person. We respect this dignity because human beings are all made in the Image of God. As Catholics we defend the dignity of the human person from womb to tomb, even if they are undocumented.
I would just like to thank Bishop Joe for being the shepherd we need in times like this. Thank you for standing up for the least among us, both unborn and undocumented. Thank you for being a good shepherd, even if herding us can sometimes bring you insults and hardships. Thank you for making me proud to be one of your sheep. You are in my prayers!
Viva Cristo Rey