MODESTO, Calif. (CNS) — The push for sanctuary was on a lot of minds at the U.S. Regional World Meeting of Popular Movements.
Concerns about President Donald Trump’s intention to deport millions of unauthorized immigrants rose throughout the Feb. 16-19 gathering of more than 600 grass-roots and church leaders in California’s Central Valley.
Declaring sanctuary for people fearing forced removal and the breakup of family life was one way to resist government actions, activists and Catholic clergy said.
Auxiliary Bishop Edward M. Deliman of Philadelphia, who also is pastor of St. Charles Borromeo Parish in suburban Bensalem, received a standing ovation when he told the gathering Feb. 18 that “what would be disruptive would be if we would declare our parish a sanctuary church.”
“If that would spread and every parish in the diocese would do the same, we certainly could do what Jesus would want us to do,” said Bishop Deliman, who has ministered alongside Latinos in the archdiocese for most of the 44 years of his priesthood.
Afterward, the bishop told Catholic News Service that offering sanctuary at the parish is being considered and that he planned to discuss the idea with Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput.
Representatives of community and church organizations working with unauthorized immigrants reported throughout the meeting that they have seen a rising level of fear and uncertainty among Latinos since Trump took office Jan. 20 and started to make good on campaign pledges to crack down on people in the country illegally.
In the government’s most recent action, the Department of Homeland Security Feb. 21 outlined guidelines that White House officials said would enhance enforcement of immigration laws inside the country as well as prevent additional unauthorized immigration.
Meeting participants blamed the institutionalization of racism and the widening acceptance of demonizing “the other,” people who are not part of the dominant American culture, for the backlash at brown and black-skinned people including Muslims.
Ingrid Vaca, of Dreamers Moms USA International, implored participants throughout the meeting to step up to protect all people being targeted for deportation and who may be on the receiving end of unwanted racial epithets.
“Now more than ever we need to work in unity and scream and shout in unity,” Vaca said during one discussion.
Arthur McFarland, a member of St. Patrick Parish in Charleston, South Carolina, and a leader with Charleston Area Justice Ministry, said prayer was helpful, but action also was necessary.
“If you want change, you have to get off your knees,” he said.
Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, vice president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, told the assembly Feb. 17 that fear has spread since Trump’s election in November even though it was President Barack Obama who presided over the deportation of a record 2.5 million people in his eight-year presidency. Children at archdiocesan schools are “terrified” that they will return home to find their parents deported, he said.
He noted that he did not appreciate “the sense of indifference and cruelty that seems to be coming from this new administration in Washington.”
“It is not right that people are being forced to live this way,” Archbishop Gomez said. “No matter if they have broken our immigration laws. They are still human beings. They have dignity and human rights.”
The archbishop reiterated the USCCB’s stance on the need for comprehensive immigration reform as an issue of social justice. Neither the new Congress nor the current administration has proposed legislation addressing the country’s immigration concerns, however.
Such comments were welcomed, but grass-roots activists implored clergy, particularly Catholic bishops, to speak more often from the pulpit about such concerns and to step up to lead demonstrations protesting racism, discrimination and deportations.
Addressing another perspective of world migration, Jesuit Father Michael Czerny, undersecretary of the Migrants and Refugee Section of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, told the gathering that while millions of people today are on the move globally, the situation is not a crisis because the migration of people has occurred throughout human history.
Father Czerny recalled how he and his brother as children fled communist Czechoslovakia to Canada in 1948 with his family because his parents wanted a better life for their sons. The same situation characterizes migrants today, he said.
The Jesuit called for people to respond to the needs of migrants because families do not make a decision to flee their homelands without deep thought and reflection.
“Migration should be a step toward life and hope,” he said, “and not falling to fear and repression.”
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As a cradle Catholic in the I’m deeply offended by our church’s stance here on breaking the law. When my single mother asked our local Parish Church give her a break on the tuition so my brother high school tuition (this happened in the late 70’s and early 80’s) they flat out refused and said if they did help, my bother could not participate in any extra activities, e.g. sports, proms, etc. (St. John Neumann is now closed.) Despite this, she really struggled to put us both through 12 years of Catholic education on her own. With absolutely no help from our Archdiocese. They attempted to shame my family for needed assistance. She never got over it sadly, now I can see her why. Were not my brother and I and most especially my mother human beings who deserved dignity? Illegal immigrants are breaking the law. I’d like to see the church call out the countries these folks are leaving to hold their governments to account.
Need to go deeper into it than that, good brother. Have you ever been to Independence Hall? “In the course of human events” and all:
Have you read “any” the documents of the Social Teaching of the Church on Immigration? Obviously not.
American Democracy is built upon denouncing and resisting unjust laws as well as violation of adherence to established law. The Congress has not been responsible to call after call to update the immigration law of the country. That is being denounced!
The Obama administration was in violation of certain aspects of Immigration law and there was specific resistance and challenge by some members of church leadership and many of the faithful to those violations throughout his administration. Google it!
However, the current administration is dispensing with due process thus acting in violation of the Constitution and the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1990 specifically violating an immigrants right to due process. A Revolution was actually fought over that issue among others many of which are being tread upon by the Executive Order issued in January:
On February 18, 2017, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, John Kelly, issued a Memo to implement the new Executive Order on Border Enforcement that was signed on January 25, 2017. One of the changes in the Memo was the announcement that Expedited Removals, previously issued only at airports, border points of entry, and against undocumented individuals who were apprehended within 100 miles of the border, will now be applied throughout the United States. This is an unprecedented expansion of the law.
An Expedited Removal Order is an order of deportation, with similar legal effect as an order of removal by an immigration judge. But the Expedited Removal order IS NOT ISSUED BY AN IMMIGRATION JUDGE, it is issued by the immigration officer soon after arrest of the person. More importantly,
the arrested person
— is denied the right to speak to an attorney,
— is denied the right to a bond or a bond hearing, and
— is denied the right to a hearing before an immigration judge where you can apply for a benefit, such as Cancellation of Removal.
— All due process rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and in the Immigration and Nationality Act are denied
To do anything less than resist is to fail to respond in defense of the stranger and to watch Civil Rights be squashed.
Bishop Deliman brings great shame to the Archdiocese with his ridiculous comments. Aiding and abetting lawbreakers will not be looked at kindly by the deplorables in the pews.
Since no one objected to Obama’s deportations, what is different now? Perhaps these clergy members are quite comfortable economically and jumping on a trendy bandwagon to be liberally correct? Do any priests. deacons or bishops live in parishes populated “deplorable” Catholics whose jobs and incomes are directly affected by these so-called “unauthorized immigrants”. Please list their activism when opposing the actions of Obama during deportations, funding of abortion mills, attempting to force Catholic institutions to obey laws/regulations directly opposed to RCC teachings. Doing “what Jesus would want us to do”….(thank you Lord that I am not like those deplorable,low income white sinners. Perhaps these clergy should walk a mile in the shoes of a deplorable before judging. Kindly state other laws they have decided to ignore because Jesus would want them to. Thank you.
When people migrate to get free stuff (welfare etc.) from governments , it is
a little different from migrations of the past.
Wondering if your statement is an informed statement. I have no idea where you live,but, wherever it is, there is likely a resettlement center established by one or another Church or NonProfit Organization. Have you ever talked with an immigrant?
Maybe a visit and a conversation with immigrants would be a help.
I had the opportunity to be on the US side (El Paso) of the papal visit to Ciudad Juarez last year. Archbishop Kurts of Louisville was on this side as well; as were a group of unaccompanied minors from Guatemala. His thought was that the teens were here to get a free education and an easy life. As he was asking them why they came, he as amazed at the answers having nothing to do with “ease” or “free” but rather to get out of situations in which their lives were endangered by gangs and drug violence.
I invite you to go walk with an immigrant and hear their stories. You won’t find many free-loaders.
Or if not, and you are willing to open yourself to a reality beyond the one you paint, then you might consider opening justiceforimmigrants.org , or look at some of these to better inform yourself beyond the sound bites:
– Factors that Force People to Move North: http://www.crs.org/media-center/egan-journalism-fellows-explore-factors-force-people-leave-guatemala-and-honduras
– Violence in Honduras Pushes People Out: http://www.crs.org/stories/violence-honduras-pushes-thousands-us-border
– Finding Alternatives to Violence: http://www.crs.org/stories/salvadoran-youth-find-alternatives-violence-gangs
All countries have borders. Americans are not evil for wanting orderly immigration.
I consider myself to be a devout Catholic. I started daily mass in 1990 after just hearing about Magic Goria. You became rosary prayers and Rosary Makers. I do not believe the church should become a sanctuary church. I believe that illegals regardless of how long they’ve been here should be sent back to their country. I will not agree with this at all for any reason.
Rewarding lawbreakers is not the way to go. Try going into their countries with no passport and see what happens.
A bunch of hypocrites. These are the same priests that had posters at all of the Catholic Churches urging parishioners to vote for life. Well you got what you wanted so now suck it up. Let’s save the unborn at all cost but once born can drop dead, be tortured, victimized or deported.
I hear yuh!
Far from all wee supporters of the Breitbart Catholic flush of reality.
The defense of immigrants and immigrant reform on the part of church (= the people which includes leadership and many of the Religious clergy) long precedes any of the current debacle.
Anger aside! Can you lend a hand to work for reform?
Sanctuary should not be given to felons. Support Kate’s law. Our president is not mass- deporting illegal immigrants.
I’ve not heard that anyone is advocating for foreign felons to be admitted or to be retained.
But that aside, Mr. Trump is moving against more than alien criminals.
The situation is not as simple as one would have you believe it. A Revolution was actually fought and won for the denial of those rights. A country was established regarding the defense of those rights. The document on which this was based was penned in your own city.
The influx of immigrants can & will break the economical back of this
Probably not. History and statistics don’t support the statement:
I consider myself a caring, giving Catholic, however, using the newly-coined phrase of “fake news”, I’m growing tired of the misrepresentation of what is being done with respect to President Trump’s attempt to correct the immigration crisis we are facing. Everyone knows they are focusing on illegal criminal offenders who pose a threat to law abiding citizens. Establishing sanctuaries within parishes means being complicit in harboring those are criminals. I don’t believe Jesus would say “help criminals avoid justice.” Please be honest and don’t distort the truth.
Romans 13 — Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore he who resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.
Priests and bishops who reject lawful civil laws commit sin and lead their flock into sin. It is absurd to say that a nation does not have the moral right to maintain boundaries.