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See innocence of unborn in face of immigrants, bishop urges

February 5th, 2018 Posted in National News Tags:

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Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — Catholics have to learn to see innocence in the faces of those coming to the U.S., just as they see the innocence of children in the womb, a Seattle auxiliary bishop said Feb. 3 in addressing one the largest gatherings of social ministry leaders from around the country.

But immigrants, children and adults, are sometimes seen as people who “do not deserve” fair wages or benefits or other forms of dignity, even though their exploitation helps maintain a certain level of well-being for many in this country, said Auxiliary Bishop Eusebio L. Elizondo of Seattle in his keynote address “Where Is Your Brother?” at the 2018 Catholic Social Ministry Gathering in Washington.

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Sisters of Mercy focus on solidarity with immigrants

January 6th, 2018 Posted in National News Tags: ,

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WASHINGTON — In a strongly worded message prior to National Migration Week Jan.7-13, the president of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas expressed solidarity with migrants and called on others to stop “blaming migrants and fanning anti-immigrant sentiment that divides our nation.”

“We renew our call for an immediate end to the unjust and immoral treatment of migrants and refugees, recognizing that decades of failed U.S. political and economic policies have contributed to the reasons people have fled homelands,” said the Jan. 3 statement by Mercy Sister Patricia McDermott from the sisters’ headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland.

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Immigrants must not be demonized, says Miami Archbishop Wenski

November 29th, 2017 Posted in National News Tags:

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WASHINGTON (CNS) — Miami Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski said laws need to be changed to fix the country’s broken immigration system, but in the process, immigrants should not be demonized.

“Fixing illegal immigration does not require the demonization of the so-called ‘illegals,'” said Archbishop Wenski, addressing an audience at a Nov. 28 event in Miami sponsored by the Immigration Partnership and Coalition Fund.

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Filipino priests encouraged to ‘be unafraid,’ support fellow immigrants

November 27th, 2017 Posted in National News Tags: , , ,

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HOUSTON — Part reunion, part crash course in Catholic teaching and navigating the current political climate both in the U.S. and back home in the Philippines, and part celebration of all things Texas, a national assembly for Filipino priests brought faith and culture full circle in Houston.

Hosted by a local organizing committee, the National Assembly of Filipino Priests is held every three years by the National Association of Filipino Priests of the U.S. and Canada.

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Vatican official hopes Trump will change his climate and immigration policies

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VATICAN CITY — The Vatican hopes that U.S. bishops and others will continue to raise their voices in defense of the obligation to fight climate change and, in time, can persuade U.S. President Donald Trump to change his position, a top Vatican official said.

Ghanaian Cardinal Peter Turkson, prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, is seen in this 2011 file photo. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

Ghanaian Cardinal Peter Turkson, prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, is seen in this 2011 file photo. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

Cardinal Peter Turkson, prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, told a group of reporters March 30 that there is concern at the Vatican over Trump’s policies, including on the environment.

Trump’s position on immigration and his efforts to roll back U.S. commitments on environmental regulations are “a challenge for us,” said the cardinal, whose office works on both questions and is charged with assisting bishops around the world as they promote Catholic social teaching.

Still, he said, “we are full of hope that things can change.”

The first sign of hope, he said, is the growing number of “dissenting voices,” who are calling attention to the scientific facts surrounding climate change and the ethical obligation to act to protect the environment for current and future generations.

“This, for us, is a sign that little by little, other positions and political voices will emerge, and so we hope that Trump himself will reconsider some of his decisions,” the cardinal said.

“Various American bishops have already spoken about the president’s position, and this could have an influence,” he said. Perhaps, Trump will come to see that not all the promises he made in the campaign would be good for the country, he added.

A change in position is not impossible, Cardinal Turkson said. “There is another superpower, China, that is rethinking its position” and has allocated funds for programs to reduce dangerous emissions. “One hopes it is not only because it is a country with ever more smog and pollution.”

The cardinal’s remarks came a day after the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development said Trump’s executive order calling for a review of the Clean Power Plan jeopardizes environmental protections and moves the country away from a national carbon standard to help meet domestic and international goals to ease greenhouse gas emissions.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the committee, said in a statement March 29 the order fails to offer a “sufficient plan for ensuring proper care for people and creation.”

Bishop Dewane suggested that an integral approach involving various components of U.S. society can reduce power plant emissions and still encourage economic growth and protect the environment.

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U.S. senators discuss trafficking, immigration with Vatican officials

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Catholic News Service

ROME — U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tennessee, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, met Feb. 23 with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, to discuss U.S.-Vatican cooperation in fighting human trafficking and ending modern slavery.

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tennessee, speaks to reporters Feb. 24 about his meeting with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state. Corker, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, met the press at the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See. (CNS photo courtesy of the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See)

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tennessee, speaks to reporters Feb. 24 about his meeting with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state. Corker, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, met the press at the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See. (CNS photo courtesy of the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See)

Corker told reporters Feb. 24 that while modern slavery was the focus of his visit, with so much international attention on President Donald Trump’s executive orders on immigration, “certainly it came up. It was not stressed. We understand the pope has spoken very strongly about this issue.”

The senator said the United States and the Vatican have a “mutual interest in dealing with modern slavery,” a phenomenon involving some 27 million people; 24 percent of them, he said, are involved in forced prostitution, while the remaining 76 percent are subjected to “hard labor.”

Pope Francis repeatedly has highlighted the connection between restrictive immigration policies and the growth of human trafficking.

“Obviously, the migrant issue and the crisis it has generated there makes people even more vulnerable,” Corker said.

The senator said he believed Trump’s executive orders on immigration were just the first step in a more comprehensive reform of U.S. immigration policy.

While the revised orders have not yet been published, Corker said he believes the restrictions on immigration from Syria and other predominantly Muslim countries where terrorism has been an issue would be a “temporary situation while they look at the vetting processes.”

“My hope is that what this is going to lead to is an immigration policy where we deal with the whole issue,” he said. “We’re beginning on the security front,” which responds to the concerns of many Americans.

Corker said he did not meet Cardinal Parolin has an emissary of the White House, but he does hope Trump will meet Pope Francis in May when the president is scheduled to be in Italy for a summit of the G-7 countries.

“Healthy relationships between our administration and the pope and the Vatican” are important for the people of the United States, he said. “As an American and as someone who sees the importance of this relationship, whether it’s in May or some other near-term point, I hope it occurs.”

Corker was not the only member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to visit the Vatican in late February.

Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Virginia, attended Pope Francis’ general audience Feb. 22 and spoke with the pope afterward about “the global refugee and migrant crisis,” his office said in a statement.

“As the pope stated so clearly yesterday (Feb. 21), it is a moral imperative to protect and defend the inalienable rights of refugees and respect their dignity, especially by adopting just laws that protect those fleeing dangerous or inhumane situations,” Kaine said.

The senator’s office said he also met with Archbishop Paul Gallagher, who is the Vatican foreign minister, participated in a discussion focused on Latin American issues with Vatican officials and met with the Jesuit Refugee Service to discuss its work with refugees and asylum seekers.

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Bishops still have hope Congress will pass immigration reform

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Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — Despite the apprehension over policies that could be enacted by a Republican-led Congress acting in accord with a Republican president in Donald Trump, the U.S. Catholic bishops remain hopeful that Congress will pass an immigration reform bill.

A U.S. Border Patrol agent frisks a man Jan. 11 near the U.S.-Mexico border fence in Jacumba, Calif. Despite the apprehension over policies that could be enacted by a Republican-led Congress acting in accord with a Republican president in Donald Trump, the U.S. Catholic bishops remain hopeful that an immigration reform bill will pass. (CNS photo/Mike Blake, Reuters)

A U.S. Border Patrol agent frisks a man Jan. 11 near the U.S.-Mexico border fence in Jacumba, Calif. Despite the apprehension over policies that could be enacted by a Republican-led Congress acting in accord with a Republican president in Donald Trump, the U.S. Catholic bishops remain hopeful that an immigration reform bill will pass. (CNS photo/Mike Blake, Reuters)

“This is a new moment with a new Congress, a new administration. We should up our expectations and move very carefully on comprehensive immigration reform,” said Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, of Galveston-Houston, who is president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

“I think this might be a very good time, a better time, to pursue our goals,” Cardinal DiNardo said during a Jan. 12 conference call promoting National Migration Week, Jan. 8-14.

“I think the (bishops’) conference is trying to start a conversation with the transition team of the president-elect,” said Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, USCCB vice president. “We continue to help elected officials … to understand the issue,” he added. “I think we are trying to establish that communication.”

“We are very much concerned about keeping families together. It’s Important to respect the security of this nation … but never to lose that human face to this reality,” added Bishop Joe S. Vasquez of Austin, Texas, chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Migration.

“People are suffering. People want to be welcome. People want to be a part of this great American society,” Bishop Vasquez said. “We need to bring about some change,” he added. “We hope the president will work with us and with Congress as well to pass some laws that will be humane and respectful.”

“In the days and weeks ahead, there will be intense debate over immigration reform and refugee policy. Ultimately, the question is this: Will our nation treat all migrants and refugees, regardless of their national origin or religion, in a way that respects their inherent dignity as children of God?” Cardinal DiNardo said.

“Pope Francis reminds us we are all equal before God. In equal measure, we are in need of and can receive God’s great mercy. This is what makes us sisters and brothers, regardless of how we chose to divide ourselves.”

The morning of the conference call, Archbishop Gomez presented a video message from Pope Francis on immigration during a Mass at the Dolores Mission Church in Boyle Heights, California, near Los Angeles. The clip was part of the pope’s interview with a U.S. television journalist.

Bishop Vasquez dismissed the notion that nationwide immigration reform is virtually impossible.

“I don’t know whether indeed working with the local level is sufficient. I think we as a church have to work with our local communities, with our local diocese and our state Catholic conferences,” he said. “But it’s important that we engage the current administration, to make known what is taking place in our countries. We have to work at the local level, but yes, we also have to work at the national level.”

“There are many in Congress who think that immigration reform is a definite possibility,” said Ashley Feasley, policy director for the USCCB’s Migration and Refugee Services. “We need to show the need for the reform of our broken system.”

Shortly after Trump’s election, Archbishop Gomez had preached about children in his diocese going to bed afraid. Bishops, he said during the conference call, “can be present to the people and give that sense of peace that we are together. There is a democratic process in our country, and this happens every four years. … We can address those situations and accomplish that in the specific area of immigration reform.”

He added that in his archdiocese, people are “more open to see the future with more peace and understanding.”

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Detainee families find comfort, support at Georgia hospitality center

May 4th, 2016 Posted in Featured, National News Tags: , , ,

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Catholic News Service

 

LUMPKIN, Ga. (CNS) — Inside this cozy yellow bungalow, the kitchen smells of fried chorizo, onions and peppers, and scrambled eggs. A fresh pot of coffee is ready by 7 a.m. as guests awaken in the three bedrooms.

A mile from the barbed wire surrounding Stewart Detention Center in rural southwest Georgia sits this house of hospitality with its small front porch and warm surroundings. Family members who drive hundreds of miles to spend an hour visiting detainees at the center can find comfort and rest here, a place known as El Refugio (“the shelter”). Read more »

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Advocates for migrants in Arizona, Sonora gather at border for ‘posada’

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Catholic News Service

 

NOGALES, Mexico (CNS) — Kenia Salas, about to play the role of Mary in a Christmastime commemoration popular across Mexico, said she imagines Mary as a woman of strength.

“I think she was worried about her baby,” Salas, 17, said before participating in the “posada” along the U.S.-Mexico border. “I think she probably was a little scared because she was about to give birth and she was in pain. But I also think she was happy. She knew what she was doing was for God, and that made her strong.” Read more »

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European practice on migrants is contradictory, Vatican official says

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Catholic News Service

GENEVA (CNS) — Europe is practicing a policy of contradictions in addressing an influx of migrants fleeing war and poverty in Africa and the Middle East, said the archbishop who heads the Holy See’s Permanent Observer Mission to the U.N. in Geneva.

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi called on European leaders to consider a more farsighted approach to the growing challenge migrants pose to the continent. Read more »

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