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Catholic groups ask Congress to reject ‘discriminatory’ RAISE Act

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Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — Calling a proposed piece of legislation “discriminatory,” the head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration called on the president and Congress to reject a bill that seeks to drastically cut legal immigration levels in half over a decade and which also would greatly limit the ability of citizens and legal residents to bring family into the U.S.

U.S. President Donald Trump makes an announcement on the introduction in the Senate of the Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment Act, or RAISE, with Sens. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., and David Perdue, R-Ga., at the White House Aug. 2. (CNS photo/Zach Gibson, pool via EPA)

U.S. President Donald Trump makes an announcement on the introduction in the Senate of the Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment Act, or RAISE, with Sens. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., and David Perdue, R-Ga., at the White House Aug. 2. (CNS photo/Zach Gibson, pool via EPA)

Other Catholic groups also called for an end to the legislation.

“Had this discriminatory legislation been in place generations ago, many of the very people who built and defended this nation would have been excluded,” said Bishop Joe S. Vasquez of Austin, Texas, chair of the bishops’ migration committee.

In a news release late Aug. 2, he criticized the RAISE Act introduced earlier in the day by Republican Sens. Tom Cotton, of Arkansas, and David Perdue, of Georgia.

In addition to cutting legal immigration, the Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy Act, or RAISE Act, would create a system of legal immigration different from the current one that favors family ties. Instead, it would move toward a system under which points would be awarded for a person’s ability to speak English, level of education, age, as well as “high-paying job offers, past achievements, and entrepreneurial initiative,” according to a White House statement praising the proposal.

Other limitations proposed by the RAISE Act would permanently cap the number of refugees allowed safe passage, “thereby denying our country the necessary flexibility to respond to humanitarian crisis,” said Bishop Vasquez.

“As a church, we believe the stronger the bonds of family, the greater a person’s chance of succeeding in life. The RAISE Act imposes a definition of family that would weaken those bonds,” he said.

Kevin Appleby, senior director of international migration policy at the Center for Migration Studies of New York, said the bill “is a nonstarter from a Catholic perspective, as it weakens the family unit and favors the rich over the poor. It also is part of a larger strategy by the administration to reduce the ethnic diversity of the immigrant population in this nation.”

The proposed bill was largely criticized and caused an uproar shortly after the president’s televised support early Aug. 2, saying it would reduce poverty, increase wages and save taxpayer money, adding that many current legal immigrants are low-skilled and many receive welfare benefits.

Later in the day, senior White House adviser Stephen Miller further added to the controversy over the bill after he seemed dismissive during a news briefing of the Statue of Liberty’s “”The New Colossus” poem and the line “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” and in defending the bill’s ability-to-speak-English requirement.

Even some of the president’s fellow Republicans, including South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, who said he has supported “merit-based” immigration, said he would not support the bill.

Bishop Vasquez said the bill would be detrimental to families and negates contributions of past immigrants to the U.S., and he called on Congress and the administration instead “to work together in a bipartisan fashion to enact into law comprehensive immigration reform.”

“I believe that such reform must recognize the many contributions that immigrants of all backgrounds have made to our nation, and must protect the lives and dignity of all, including the most vulnerable,” said Bishop Vasquez.

Christopher G. Kerr, executive director of the Ohio-based Ignatian Solidarity Network, a national social justice education and advocacy organization, said from a faith perspective, it’s hard to back the RAISE Act if you reflect on the words of the pope, who called on Americans during his 2015 apostolic visit “to not turn their backs on their neighbors.”

But the RAISE Act does just that by creating “obstacles to family unity for immigrant families and block access to safety for tens of thousands of refugees,” he said.

“We continue to call for immigration policies that support family unity, provide pathways to citizenship, and promote humane and just treatment of immigrants — the RAISE Act does not respond to this call,” said Kerr.

 

Follow Guidos on Twitter: @CNS_Rhina.

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Pope Francis to meet President Trump at Vatican May 24

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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump will visit the Vatican and meet with Pope Francis May 24 as part of his first foreign trip as president.

White House officials said the visit will be part of a trip that will include stops in Israel and Saudi Arabia before Trump attends a NATO meeting in Brussels May 25 and the G7 summit in Taormina on the island of Sicily May 26-27. Read more »

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Cardinal Dolan to participate at Trump inauguration

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Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — New York’s Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan will take part in the upcoming presidential inauguration of Republican Donald Trump.

New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan has been invited to read from Scripture at the upcoming Trump inauguration. (CNS/Bob Roller)

New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan has been invited to read from Scripture at the upcoming Trump inauguration. (CNS/Bob Roller)

“I am honored to have been asked to offer a reading from Scripture at the upcoming presidential inauguration, and look forward to asking almighty God to inspire and guide our new president and to continue to bless our great nation,” Cardinal Dolan said in an email to Catholic News Service.

Trump, a lifelong New Yorker, will be sworn in as the 45th president of the United States Jan. 20.

According to the president-elect’s inaugural committee, other faith leaders who are scheduled to be present include the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference; Paula White of New Destiny Christian Center; Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center; the Rev. Franklin Graham of Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association; and Bishop Wayne T. Jackson of Great Faith Ministries International.

 

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Hackett reflects on his three years as U.S. ambassador to Vatican

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Ken Hackett, the U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, is gearing up to try retirement for the second time. The retired president of Catholic Relief Services, the U.S. bishops’ overseas aid agency, is leaving his ambassadorial post three years and three months after presenting his credentials to Pope Francis. Read more »

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Candidates spar at Al Smith Dinner that raises $6 million for New York’s Catholic Charities

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Catholic News Service

NEW YORK — When Donald J. Trump stepped over yet another invisible line of the contentious presidential race Oct. 20, many of the 1,500 people at 71st annual dinner of the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation broke historic precedent to boo him.

New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan shares a light moment with U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump during the 71st annual Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York City Oct. 20. The charity gala, which honors the memory of the former New York Democratic governor who was the first Catholic nominated by a major political party for the U.S. presidency, raises money to support not-for-profit organizations that serve children in need. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)

New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan shares a light moment with U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump during the 71st annual Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York City Oct. 20. The charity gala, which honors the memory of the former New York Democratic governor who was the first Catholic nominated by a major political party for the U.S. presidency, raises money to support not-for-profit organizations that serve children in need. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)

Candidates Trump and Hillary Clinton flanked the host, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, on the five-tiered dais of the Grand Ballroom at the heavily secured Waldorf Astoria hotel for the charitable gala.

The event has been a traditional opportunity for speakers to poke good-natured fun at themselves, one another, and prominent guests from the worlds of politics, business and philanthropy without inflicting wounds.

In 1928, Alfred E. Smith, former governor of New York who was raised in poverty, was the first Catholic nominated by a major political party to run for president of the United States.

Despite an introductory warning delivered as a humor-coated reminder of the evening’s ground rules by emcee Alfred E. Smith IV, chairman of the dinner, Trump veered from the safety of chuckle-inducing barbs and zings. He said she is “so corrupt” she was kicked off the Watergate commission. The room erupted in a crescendo of boos and shoutouts, as he lobbed one accusation after another that his opponent is deceptive and a Catholic-hater. “She is here tonight … pretending not to hate Catholics,” he said.

Decorum was restored when the Republican nominee recalled past Al Smith dinners as a special occasion to spend time with his father, developer Fred Trump.

Smith, a great-grandson of the foundation’s namesake, aimed jokes equally at both candidates and reflected the general discomfort of the electorate with them. He told Trump to watch his language because “even though the man sitting next to you is in a robe, you’re not in a locker room.” He advised Clinton to remain stoic in the face of insults during the evening by considering it a fourth debate.

Noting the proximity on Fifth Avenue of St. Patrick’s Cathedral to Trump Tower, Smith said Trump’s appearance was historic, marking the first time the Catholic Church was not the largest tax-exempt landowner at the dinner.

Trump was greeted warmly with applause. He quipped that the huge event was a small intimate dinner with friends for him, but that it counted as his opponent’s largest crowd of the season.

Trump gave a shoutout to politicians in the room who formerly loved him, but turned on him when he sought the Republican nomination. He said the dinner gives candidates an opportunity to meet one another’s teams and those working hard to get them elected.

As he spoke, he pointed out chairmen of media corporations seated on the dais and among the assembly. As an example that the media is biased against him, Trump said Michelle Obama gave a speech that everyone loved, but when his wife, Melania, delivered the exact same speech, “people got all over her case. I don’t get it.”

Trump said he knows Clinton is very gracious because, if elected, she wants him to be her ambassador to either Iraq or Afghanistan.

Trump said the presidential debates were the most vicious in the history of politics. In a rare reflective moment, he turned to Clinton and asked, “Are we supposed to be proud of it?”

We need to stand up to anti-Catholic bias, defend religious liberty and create a culture that celebrates life, Trump concluded.

Trump sat down to mixed applause and boos. Retaking the microphone, Smith said,
“As Ronald Reagan would say, ‘There you go again!’” He noted the dinner raised a record $6 million.

The Democratic nominee was introduced to a standing ovation. Clinton said the fiery populist Al Smith would be proud of the money raised at the event, but if he saw the
“room full of plutocrats” gathered to celebrate his legacy, he’d be confused.

Clinton said she was taking a break from her rigorous nap schedule to attend, but the event was also treat for the guests because she usually charges a lot for a speech. She said she was a little amazed at the opportunity to speak, because she didn’t think her opponent would be OK with a peaceful transition of power.

Clinton said, “Every year this dinner brings together a collection of sensible, committed mainstream Republicans, or as we now like to call them, Hillary supporters.”

She said critics accuse her of saying only what listeners want to hear. “Tonight that is true. This is exactly what you want to hear. This election will be over very, very soon.”

Clinton said when Trump wanted her to undergo a pre-debate drug test, “I was so flattered he thought I used some sort of performance-enhancers. Actually I did. It’s called preparation.”

Trump has questioned her stamina, Clinton said, but over the course of three debates, she has stood next to him for longer than any of his campaign managers. She said Trump is so concerned about her health, he sent a car to bring her to the dinner. “Actually it was a hearse.”

Nonetheless, Clinton said if elected, “I will be the healthiest and youngest woman ever to serve.”

Clinton said one of the things the candidates have in common is the Republican National Committee “isn’t spending a dime to help either one of us.”

Turning serious, Clinton said it’s easy to forget how far the country has come. When Al Smith ran for office, she said there were rumors that he would forbid Bible-reading in schools, annul Protestant marriages and make the Holland Tunnel into a secret passageway to the Vatican so the pope could rule the country. “Those appeals to fear and division can cause us to treat each other as ‘the other.’ Rhetoric like that makes it harder for us to respect each other,” she said.

“We need to get better at finding ways to disagree on matters of policy while agreeing on questions of decency and civility,” she said.

Although the candidates shook hands across Cardinal Dolan at the dinner, he jokingly attributed his nascent cold at the benediction to having spent two hours seated between them, which he said is “the iciest pace on the planet. Where is global warming when you need it?”

He noted the funds raised at the dinner would provide grants for thousands of mothers and children who are most in need and least visible to society.

Dinner guests in formal attire sat elbow-to-elbow at gold-covered tables in the ballroom and its two balconies. The $3,000-a plate meal included a seafood trio appetizer, tournedos of beef and a chocolate dessert duet. Metropolitan Opera soprano Nadine Sierra sang the national anthem from the dais, set against the backdrop of a huge American flag.

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Listecki: Anti-Catholicism ‘equal opportunity prejudice’ in campaign

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MILWAUKEE (CNS) — Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki called anti-Catholicism “an equal opportunity prejudice” evident in the presidential election.

Quoting historian Arthur Schlesinger Sr., he noted the campaigns of Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton have engaged in “the deepest held bias in the history of the American people.” Read more »

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Presidential nominees spar over abortion issue as final debate opens

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Catholic News Service

 

WASHINGTON (CNS) — In the final presidential debate Oct. 19, Republican Donald Trump used his most explicit language to date to denounce late-term abortions.

Trump made those remarks after Democrat Hillary Clinton, answering the first question from moderator Chris Wallace, restated her support of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion virtually on demand, and she pledged continued support for Planned Parenthood. Read more »

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Open letter in National Review urges Catholics to reject Trump’s candidacy

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WASHINGTON — Republican candidate Donald Trump’s run for the White House is putting the efforts by the Republican Party to defend and advance the many “noble causes” it has promoted in his history “in grave danger,”said an open letter to Catholics published March 7 in the National Review.

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Cadillac, Mich., March 4. (CNS photo/Jim Young, Reuters)

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Cadillac, Mich., March 4. (CNS photo/Jim Young, Reuters)

“Donald Trump is manifestly unfit to be president of the United States. His campaign has already driven our politics down to new levels of vulgarity,” said the letter from two prominent Catholics, Robert George and George Weigel.

“His appeals to racial and ethnic fears and prejudice are offensive to any genuinely Catholic sensibility,” they wrote in their “appeal to our fellow Catholics and to all men and women of goodwill.

George is the McCormick professor of jurisprudence at Princeton University. Weigel is distinguished senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and holds its William E. Simon chair in Catholic studies.

“There is nothing in his campaign or his previous record that gives us grounds for confidence that he genuinely shares our commitments to the right to life, to religious freedom and the rights of conscience, to rebuilding the marriage culture, or to subsidiarity and the principle of limited constitutional government,” they said.

National Review, based in Washington, is the conservative magazine founded by William F. Buckley.

The letter from George and Weigel included signatures from at least 35 others well-known in legal, academic, public policy circles as well as at think tanks.

Stephen M. Barr of the University of Delaware is listed as one of the signers.

George and Weigel said that the Republican Party, while “imperfect, like all human institutions, but serviceable” has in recent decades been a vehicle “for promoting causes at the center of Catholic social concern in the United States.”

Those causes include “providing legal protection for unborn children, the physically disabled and cognitively handicapped, the frail elderly, and other victims of what St. John Paul II branded ‘the culture of death.’”

The party also has defended religious freedom “in the face of unprecedented assaults by officials at every level of government who have made themselves the enemies of conscience”; worked to rebuild “our marriage culture” based on the “sound understanding” that marriage is between one woman and one man; and made strong efforts to re-establish “constitutional and limited government, according to the core Catholic social-ethical principle of subsidiarity.”

“There have been frustrations along the way, to be sure; no political party perfectly embodies Catholic social doctrine,” they said. “But there have also been successes, and at the beginning of the current presidential electoral cycle, it seemed possible that further progress in defending and advancing these noble causes was possible through the instrument of the Republican Party.”

George and Weigel acknowledged that Trump “speaks to issues of legitimate and genuine concern” and said they understand that as a result, many people, including Catholics, have been attracted to his campaign.

Some of those issues, they said, are “wage stagnation, grossly incompetent governance, profligate governmental spending, the breakdown of immigration law, inept foreign policy, stifling political correctness — for starters.”

“There are indeed many reasons to be concerned about the future of our country, and to be angry at political leaders and other elites,” George and Weigel said.

But they urged Catholics and other voters to consider other Republican candidates who are “far more likely” than Trump “to address these concerns, and who do not exhibit his vulgarity, oafishness, shocking ignorance, and — we do not hesitate to use the word — demagoguery.”

George and Weigel did not name the others still in the running for the Republican nomination: U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz, of Texas, and Marco Rubio, of Florida, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

Trump’s record and his campaign “show us no promise of greatness; they promise only the further degradation of our politics and our culture,” George and Weigel said.

“We urge our fellow Catholics and all our fellow citizens to reject his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination by supporting a genuinely reformist candidate,” they added.

George and Weigel also pointed to Trump’s talk on the stump of ordering U.S. military personnel “to torture terrorist suspects and to kill terrorists’ families.” The writers pointed out such actions are condemned by the Catholic Church.

Such policies, they added, “would bring shame upon our country.”

 

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Building walls to keep immigrants out is not Christian, Pope Francis says — Updated

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Catholic News Service

ABOARD THE PAPAL FLIGHT FROM MEXICO — As the plane carrying him back to Rome from Mexico was flying over Texas, Pope Francis insisted building walls to keep immigrants out of one’s country is un-Christian. Read more »

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