The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops sent to bishops and other Catholic leaders on Sept. 30 the newly released documentary on immigration produced by EthicsDaily.com, whose parent company is the Baptist Center for Ethics.
Some 500 DVDs were distributed with a cover letter from Anthony Taylor, bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Little Rock, urging Catholic leaders to order the documentary to distribute to their parishes.
“I have no recollection of any Baptist-produced resource distributed by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops,” said Glenn Hinson, who taught church history for decades at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Baptist Theological Seminary-Richmond and Kentucky Baptist Seminary.
“I think this is big news,” Hinson told EthicsDaily.com, calling it “a breakthrough.”
Taylor noted in his letter that Catholic social teaching calls for ecumenical cooperation for the sake of the common good.
“[B]ut up to now there has been relatively little ecumenical collaboration to secure justice for immigrants, especially between Catholics and Baptists. This is due to our sad history of uncomfortable relations, which is especially acute in the Hispanic community since most Hispanic non-Catholics are former (at least nominal) Catholics,” wrote Taylor.
He wrote, “Immigration reform is one area where we can learn to work together in a united way to build bridges of shared humanity and Christian faith in line with Vatican II’s vision of the demands of the Gospel today.”
Taylor commended “Gospel Without Borders,” telling his fellow bishops that the documentary was underwritten with a grant from the United Methodist Foundation of Arkansas and that this initiative involves members of the three largest Christian bodies in the United States – Methodists, Catholics and Baptists.
“By portraying how members of these and other Churches are trying to help immigrants who are all victims of the very same injustices, we see that we are all in this together and will accomplish far more if we let down our guard, set aside our differences and work together to establish justice,” said Taylor about the documentary.
“I have ordered copies of ‘Gospel Without Borders’ for all the parishes in Arkansas and will recommend that they use the longer, 4 chapter multi-week version of the video,” wrote Taylor, who is vice president of the board of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network.
He is also profiled in the documentary as an expert on the intersection of faith and immigration.
The documentary is available in a short version (31 minutes) and a long version (54 minutes) on a single DVD.
The Arkansas bishop wrote that “the Gospel of Jesus Christ is truly a Gospel Without Borders.”
“No single group can solve this problem,” said Taylor about immigration at the premier screening of the documentary at New Millennium Church in Little Rock, Ark. “It is inspiring the Lord has provided this opportunity. There are no denominational issues on this topic. We are not arguing about doctrine.”
Catholic priests appeared on screening panels in Charlotte and Raleigh, N.C., events sponsored by the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina.
Luis Zarama, auxiliary bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Atlanta, was a panelist at the screening at Smoke Rise Baptist Church in Stone Mountain, Ga., on Oct. 11.
“A United Methodist-funded documentary that is produced by a Baptist organization which partners with a Catholic bishop is an extraordinary development. Such substantive collaboration will surely advance the common good on what is the civil rights issue of the 21st century,” said Robert Parham, executive director of the Baptist Center for Ethics.
“Now is the time for goodwill Christians to build up the moral capital in our churches and culture on the immigration issue,” said Parham. “While we have different baptisms, biblical interpretations and worship styles, we have a common calling from God to seek justice for our neighbors.”
Visit GospelWithoutBorders.net for more information about the documentary.