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Insights: Bishops Denounce Immigration Executive Orders; Finding Faith in Prison

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February 3, 2017

Catholic Bishops Denounce President’s Immigration Executive Orders

Several U.S. Catholic Bishops publically vocalized their disapproval and disappointment this week in President Trump’s new Executive Order restricting the flow of travelers and refugees into the United States for 90 to 120 days.  

Archbishop José H. Gomez of the Diocese of Los Angeles released a statement lamenting the new policies.

“The first thing to say is that these executive orders seem like they were put together too fast. Not enough thought seems to have been given to their legality or to explaining their rationale or to considering the practical consequences for millions of people here and across the globe,” Gomez wrote.

Acting as his role as vice president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Archbishop Gomez also released a joint statement with United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) President Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, calling on all Catholics to “join us as we unite our voices with all who speak in defense of human dignity” and promising, “The Church will not waver in her defense of our sisters and brothers of all faiths who suffer at the hands of merciless persecutors.”

Bishop Robert McElroy of the Diocese of San Diego issued a statement critical of the new policies.

“This week the Statue of Liberty lowered its torch in a presidential action which repudiates our national heritage and ignores the reality that Our Lord and the Holy Family were themselves Middle Eastern refugees fleeing government oppression.  We cannot and will not stand silent,” McElroy wrote.

Two USCCB Committee Chairman released an additional statement on Trump’s decision not to rescind Executive Order 13672, which prohibits federal government contractors from undefined "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" discrimination, and forbids "gender identity" discrimination in the employment of federal employees both “troubling and disappointing.”

 

Welcoming the Stranger:  Practical Advice for the Undocumented

When Diana Campos first came to live in the U.S., she was only an infant. 

“I was born in Mexico and arrived in the U.S. a year later. I have lived here my whole life,” said Campos.

“Growing up undocumented I became accustomed to what it felt like to be an Americanized Mexican living in a society that did not fully accept me. I graduated from high school in 2012 and found myself with acceptance letters to colleges that I could not attend. I found myself driving in fear of being pulled over without my license.  A lack of a work permit made me feel useless and my future looked dark,” she said. “I was stripped of basic rights, I, as a person of faith, knew every person was born with.”

As the new Administration continues to take action, the future of the almost 11 million undocumented individuals in the United States has become uncertain.  An atmosphere of anxiety permeates some of our communities, where many fear their families will be torn apart and their lives shattered.

The Catholic Church believes that migrants must be welcomed with dignity and respect – as if we were greeting Christ himself.  Migrants leave their home countries for a variety of reasons, with many escaping life-threatening war zones and extreme poverty.  In the United States, and throughout the world, the Church devotes both pastoral and material assistance to “welcome the stranger.”

One of the most prominent worries is the fear that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) programs will be eliminated. DACA and DAPA are designed to provide undocumented persons who were brought to the United States when they were children with temporary relief from deportation (deferred action).

“DACA changed my life and view on life completely,” said Campos.

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Finding Faith in Prison

When Stockton Bishop Stephen E. Blaire went out of the ominous steel gates of Deuel Vocational Institute in Tracy late last Christmas eve, he was given a small but powerful painting of the cross being raised by three prisoners.

The compelling image was a gift from the prisoners to their own priest. Bishop Blaire has spent each of the last 19 Christmas Eves celebrating Mass with the men inside the prison in its small Our Lady of Hope Chapel. The chapel serves as a small place of sanctuary in the tough prison environment and has a traditional crucifix depicting Christ in His final suffering.

But this year prison authorities placed a wooden panel over the chapel’s cross due to a lawsuit that required a reassessment of available chapel space.

Bishop Blaire explains, “The painting gives expression to the pain the men feel in having the image of the Christ who suffers with them encapsulated in a nailed wooden covering. 

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Pray and Act on Feb. 8 to End Human Trafficking

The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and the International Union of Superiors General has designated next Wednesday, February 8, as an annual day of prayer and awareness against human trafficking.

February 8 is the feast day of ST. Josephine Bakhita who was kidnapped as a child and sold into slavery in Sudan and Italy. With the help of Canossian nuns, she realized that she was created in the image of God and possessed human dignity, refused to be enslaved, and became a Canossian sister who dedicated her life to sharing her testament of deliverance from slavery and comforting the poor and suffering.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has released a toolkit to assist parishes and parishioners in their activities to help combat this abhorrent crime against humanity.

 

Please Support the BRIDGE Act and Protect DACA Youth

The BRIDGE (Bar Removal of Individuals who Dream and Grow our Economy) Act, S.128/H.R. 496, was recently introduced in Congress as a bipartisan effort to sustain the temporary relief from deportation and employment eligibility offered to youth through the Department of Homeland Security's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Under the BRIDGE Act, young people who came to the United States as children would maintain their eligibility to work and live in the U.S. without the fear of deportation and family separation so long as they meet certain requirements, such as showing a commitment to education or honorable service in our military and having no history of serious crime.

There are more than 750,000 young people who have received and benefitted from DACA. These youth entered the U.S. as children and know America as their only home. They are contributors to our economy, veterans of our military, academic standouts in our universities, and leaders in our parishes and communities. As Catholics, we have long supported DACA youth and their families as we believe in protecting the dignity of every human being, especially that of our children. 



Ask your Senators and Representative to support and co-sponsor the BRIDGE ACT.

February 3, 2017
Vol. 10, No. 5

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