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Bishops and issues for July 2019

A round-up of U.S. bishops' statements in response to issues in the news

Cardinal decries ‘climate of fear’ on immigration 

WASHINGTON | Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, made the following statement in response to the climate of fear created by the Department of Homeland Security’s announced immigration enforcement actions and the administration’s new Interim Final Rule to drastically limit asylum, which was published July 16:

“Enforcement actions like those anticipated this week by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency separate families, cause the unacceptable suffering of thousands of children and their parents, and create widespread panic in our communities. I condemn such an approach, which has created a climate of fear in our parishes and communities across the country. I recently wrote the President asking him to reconsider this action. 

“A stated intent of these actions is to deter Central Americans fleeing for their lives from seeking refuge in the United States. This is both misguided and untenable. It is contrary to American and Christian values to attempt to prevent people from migrating here when they are fleeing to save their lives and to find safety for their families.


“And, in addition to this climate of fear, we have seen the administration today take further unacceptable action to undermine the ability of individuals and families to seek protection in the United States. The administration’s new rule on asylum eligibility presents a similar enforcement-only immigration approach. The rule adds further barriers to asylum-seekers’ ability to access life-saving protection, shirks our moral duty, and will prevent the United States from taking its usual leading role in the international community as a provider of asylum protection. Further, while still reviewing the rule, initial analysis raises serious questions about its legality.

“I urge the President to reconsider these actions, the new rule, and its enforcement-only approach. I ask that persons fleeing for their lives be permitted to seek refuge in the U.S. and all those facing removal proceedings be afforded due process. All who are at or within our borders should be treated with compassion and dignity. Beyond that, a just solution to this humanitarian crisis should focus on addressing the root causes that compel families to flee and enacting a humane reform of our immigration system. 

“Pope Francis, in his message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2019, reminds us that ‘the presence of migrants and refugees – and of vulnerable people in general – is an invitation to recover some of those essential dimensions of our Christian existence and our humanity that risk being overlooked in a prosperous society.’” 


Bishop applauds convening of conference for religious freedom

WASHINGTON | The Second Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, hosted by the U.S. Department of State, took place July 16-18, with participation from 1,000 religious and civil society leaders and foreign ministers from 115 countries. The Ministerial reaffirms international commitments to promote religious freedom and develop durable, positive ways to combat religious persecution and unjust discrimination.

Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, of the Military Services, USA, who chairs the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, issued the following statement:

“Our faith reminds us that religious freedom is the cornerstone of a just society which is increasingly under threat. 77% of world’s population, 5.5 billion, live in 83 countries with high or very high restrictions on the practice of religion. We are witnessing entire communities around the world pay with their lives to exercise freedom of conscience and faith. I am pleased to participate in this Ministerial, and support our government’s efforts to promote freedom of conscience and religion for all.”


Bishops warn new rule will lead to family separation, housing instability

WASHINGTON | Bishops from two committees of the USCCB have expressed their opposition to a proposed rule by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that would lead to separation or housing instability for many families. Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, and Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, offered the following statements.

“The proposed rule would have terrible consequences for thousands of mixed-status families,” said Bishop Vásquez. “It would force these families to make a heartbreaking choice — endure family separation so that eligible members can continue to receive critical housing assistance or stay together and forfeit any such assistance. This choice between unity and stability is one no family should have to make. We urge HUD to withdraw this deeply concerning proposed rule.”

“The right to decent, safe, and affordable housing is rooted in the fundamental dignity of every person,” said Bishop Dewane. “By proposing this rule, HUD acknowledges the need for more housing assistance so that people in need won’t have to endure long waits for programs that are overwhelmed by demand. More must be done to address housing needs in this country, but it must not be done at the expense of mixed-status families.”

For the full comments that USCCB submitted in conjunction with Catholic Charities USA, the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc., and the Catholic Health Association, click here.


Bishop shares Mexican counterparts’ concern over immigration agreement

WASHINGTON | Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, has issued a statement in support of Catholic bishops of Mexico who have expressed concern regarding a recent agreement between Mexico and the United States which will restrict the flow of migrants at the U.S./Mexico Border. 

On June 10, the Catholic Bishops of Mexico stated:

"We express our concern for the lack of a truly humanitarian reception for our brother migrants, which reflects our conviction regarding the protection of the rights of all human beings equally," the bishops further stated, "Our brother migrants must not be a bargaining chip. No negotiations should be placed above what the church and civil society have defended for years: not criminalizing migrants nor the defenders of human rights.”

Bishop Joe Vásquez responded with the following statement of support:

“We stand in solidarity with our brother bishops in Mexico. We implore the Administration not to confuse economic issues with the humanitarian issues of forced migration.  Families fleeing violence, persecution and extreme poverty must be treated with love and compassion and not be used as a tool for negotiations. 

“s always, we recognize the right of a nation to secure its borders. However, the Gospel teaches us to love our neighbor. This is the imperative we must follow in treating our migrant brothers and sisters with compassion and dignity. We should be working with the governments of the Northern Triangle and the Mexican Government to eradicate violence and improve the local economies from which families are being forced to migrate.”


Bishops back Supreme Court decision on census

WASHINGTON | Bishop Frank Dewane of Venice, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Bishop Joe Vásquez, of Austin, chairman of the Committee on Migration, issued the following statement regarding the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in Department of Commerce v. New York, regarding the importance of ensuring an accurate count for the U.S. Census:

“We affirm last week’s decision by the Supreme Court that the inclusion of a citizenship question must ensure genuine reasons for such inclusion. We reaffirm that all persons in the United States should be counted in the Census regardless of their immigration status and reemphasize our judgment that questions regarding citizenship should not be included in the Census. We hope that this view will prevail, whether by administrative action or judicial determination.”


Bishop calls for de-escalation of conflict with Iran

WASHINGTON | In a June 18 letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, archbishop for the Military Services, USA, and chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, noted that escalating tensions between the United States and Iran increase the risk of conflict in the Middle East, a region that is already extremely volatile. 

Reiterating the Bishops’ Conference’s support for the P5+1 agreement with Iran, Archbishop Broglio stated that the U.S. unilateral withdrawal from that agreement and imposition of added economic sanctions has also “exacerbated tensions with close allies and other world powers.”

Archbishop Broglio expressed the hope that “the United States will initiate sustained dialogue with allies, world powers and Iran, in order to deescalate the current situation that is a danger to both the region and the world.”

The full text of the letter can be found here.

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