Dear Editor: I am a grandson of William Byles. The story of our grand uncle, Father Thomas Byles (April 23), is one of liberation theology.
First, he released the chains barring the doors that confined the poor, the immigrants and perhaps some refugees in the steerage compartments. For a few moments, they were physically free and had the dignity to breathe fresh air and see the stars.
Second, he freed them spiritually through general absolution.
In our current political climate, it is useful to recall how our ancestors arrived in steerage on ships like the Titanic, a slave ship for some or by fording the Rio Grande for others and to reflect on the profound respect Father Byles had for the poor, for those fleeing hunger, poverty and political strife, immigrating to America.
A century later, people are still fleeing hunger and violence from Central America, Syria and other parts of the world. We don’t have to be a martyr, but we could open our hearts and participate in our Church’s efforts to help immigrants and refugees and to demand immigration reform.
Son of Louisa Byles Kirchner