Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Women Priests Call on U.S. Bishops to Embrace Sanctuary Movement and Propel Immigration Reform Forward for Legal Status Now

From the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests (ARCWP)

Contact: Janice Sevre-Duszynska,
Bridget Mary Meehan 703-505-0004,

The international Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests Movement calls on the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to declare every Catholic parish in the U.S. a sanctuary church. We join with countless Christian Churches and Jewish Synagogues  who have declared their places of worship a sanctuary, and say yes to being the heart of love to our sisters and brothers who have nowhere to turn.

In the Roman Catholic tradition, June is the month highlighting devotion to the Sacred Heart, a symbol of the Infinite love of Christ for all God’s people. It follows then that the Church should be a blessed sanctuary for all people including immigrants who are undocumented. 
In an interview with the Catholic publication Crux, Daniel Flores, the bishop of Brownsville, a Texas town near the Mexican border, said that "in some instances," undocumented people seeking asylum were experiencing the "real threat to life," and failing to support these undocumented people was "to comply with an immoral act."
The Catholic Church teaches that individuals must always follow their consciences and “an unjust law cannot be obeyed.” 

In a recent example, the U.S. Episcopal Conference recommended disobedience to an unjust law in its opposition to the Affordable Care Act, mandating them to provide contraceptive methods to patients regardless of their own religious beliefs." An unjust law cannot be obeyed...Finally to our brother bishops, let us exhort each other with fraternal charity to be bold, clear, and insistent in warning against threats to the rights of our people. Let us attempt to be the "conscience of the state," to use Rev. King's words." read the document released by the American Episcopal Conference

If the bishops believe that they are the "conscience of the state," then they must challenge mass deportation and offer sanctuary to the undocumented.

While many priests would welcome making their parishes Sanctuary churches, they cannot do so without the approval of the bishop or cardinal. Activist Feliz Cepeda advocates that the New York Archdiocese, with 35% Hispanic population, declares its parishes places of refuges for undocumented immigrants threatened by President Trump’s stance on immigration. 

We believe that if our U.S. bishops boldly declared all Catholic parishes sanctuaries, this prophetic act would reflect the face of God’s compassion and justice in the United States and throughout the world. In Chicago, Cardinal Blase Cupich instructed priests to inform Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials that they may not enter without a warrant. 

By providing a place of refuge for the undocumented, U.S. bishops can help propel immigration reform forward to grant legal status to the undocumented.  

"I believe everyone is welcome in the sanctuary of God's love and religious houses of worship are sanctuaries of God's love." Bridget Mary Meehan

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