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Cardinal McCarrick's 60 years of ministry in church had global impact

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WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The Vatican has told Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, the retired archbishop of Washington, that he can no longer exercise any public ministry after an allegation that he abused a teenager 47 years ago was found credible.

While maintaining his innocence, the cardinal said June 20 he had cooperated with church authorities' investigation of the claim and that he would obey the Vatican directive on ministry.

As people in the many places he has served -- the New York Archdiocese, the Diocese of Metuchen, New Jersey, the Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey, and finally the Archdiocese of Washington -- absorb the news about the high-profile churchman, many also will recall Cardinal McCarrick's long years of ministry in the church on the national and international levels.

Even in retirement, after decades of regularly testifying before Congress and attending White House meetings on public policy, Cardinal McCarrick kept abreast of a range of policy issues, domestic and international.

As a board member of Catholic Relief Services, the U.S. bishops' overseas relief and development agency, he continued to travel the world and had regular speaking engagements and other activities, in the United States and beyond.

In May 2014, he was part of a U.S. bishops' delegation that traveled to Iran to meet quietly with Iranian religious leaders. In November 2013, he toured areas in the Philippines that had been devastated, visiting residents and celebrating Mass.

Then-Archbishop McCarrick was installed to head the Archdiocese of Washington in 2001. Just three weeks later he was made a cardinal. He was the fifth archbishop of Washington and the fourth in a row to be named a cardinal.

As canon law requires of all bishops, the cardinal submitted his resignation to Pope Benedict XVI when he turned 75 on July 7, 2005. However, the pope asked the cardinal to continue heading the archdiocese. He retired in 2006 at age 76, and now-Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl was named to succeed him.

Ordained a bishop in 1977, he was an auxiliary for the New York Archdiocese until 1981, when he was made the first bishop of the newly formed Diocese of Metuchen. In May 1986 he was named archbishop of Newark.

He was there for 14 years. During his tenure in Newark, he ordained 200 priests, more than any other U.S. diocese in that period.

In 1997, as a speaker in the Distinguished Lecture Series of the U.S. State Department's Open Forum, he called for U.S. policy at home and abroad to focus on the poor and the vulnerable.

"We believe that we are called to put the needs of the poor first in our national and global choices," he said.

In 1998, he chaired and hosted a major international conference on the ethical dimensions of international debt, co-sponsored by the Vatican and U.S. bishops, at Seton Hall University in his archdiocese. The conference is credited with having a significant impact on the U.S. and world commitment to reducing the debt of heavily indebted poor countries.

He set an example of debt forgiveness in his own archdiocese early in the jubilee year 2000 by forgiving some $10 million that parishes, schools and church agencies owed the archdiocese.

In 2001, he was named to succeed retiring Cardinal James A. Hickey in the nation's capital.

He ordained 43 men in his time in the nation's capital, including a class of 12 that was the largest in more than 30 years.

Often in the news for his leadership in international justice and peace issues, Cardinal McCarrick headed the U.S. bishops' committees on migration, international policy and aid to the church in Central and Eastern Europe.

He is a founding member of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom and was on the U.S. Commission for the Study of International Migration and Cooperative Economic Development.

At a White House ceremony Dec. 6, 2000, he received the Eleanor Roosevelt Award for Human Rights.

Born in New York July 7, 1930, Theodore Edgar McCarrick was the only child of Theodore Egan McCarrick, a sea captain, and Margaret McLaughlin McCarrick. Growing up in the Great Depression, he was 3 when his father died and his grandmother moved in to help raise him while his mother worked.

He was 22 and had studied in Europe for a year-and-a-half, learning to speak French and German, before he entered St. Joseph Seminary in Yonkers, New York. He earned a master's degree in history there and was ordained a priest of the New York Archdiocese May 31, 1958.

After ordination he was assigned to The Catholic University of America in Washington. He spent seven years there, earning a master's degree in social sciences and a doctorate in sociology while serving first as an assistant chaplain and later dean of students and director of development.

From 1965 to 1969, he was president of the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico.

He returned to New York in 1969 as archdiocesan associate secretary for education, and the following year he became secretary to New York's Cardinal Terence Cooke.

On June 29, 1977, he was ordained a bishop, serving as an auxiliary for the archdiocese.

He frequently traveled abroad to trouble spots, especially as chairman of the bishops' Eastern Europe and international policy committees.

Among places he had visited were Yugoslavia, Croatia, Kosovo, Albania, Lebanon, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Rwanda, East Timor, China, Vietnam, Cuba, Colombia and Mexico.

Besides English, French and German, he could handle Spanish and Italian "reasonably well" and "can understand Portuguese and a little Polish."

Cardinal McCarrick was a former member of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers and the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

He was on the board of trustees of The Catholic University of America and the boards of CRS and the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

In addition to the committees he headed for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, he served or had served on the bishops' Administrative Committee and their committees on doctrine, the laity, Latin America, Hispanic affairs and missions.

He was a founding member and president since 1997 of the Papal Foundation, established in the 1980s to assure the long-term solvency of the Holy See and contribute to its activities and papal charities around the world.

He was a member of the Synod for America in 1997 and served on its post-synodal council.

He spent a year from January 2011 to January 2012 as a visiting scholar at the Library of Congress, working out of an office in the library's historic Thomas Jefferson building.

During the yearlong post, Cardinal McCarrick looked at into how the Amman Message has evolved and what its effects have been on the teachings and practice of Islam. The subject fit one of his goals for retirement: to build bridges between Catholicism and Islam.

The Amman Message is a declaration recognizing the common principles of eight traditional schools of Islamic religious law.

Cardinal McCarrick's interest in Islam and involvement with relations between Christians and Muslims went back many years. In the mid-1990s, he served on the State Department's Advisory Committee on Religious Freedom Abroad and was one of the first members of the U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom when it was created in 1999.

He also was chairman of the Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land and continued to be involved in a variety of Holy Land and Middle East peace organizations and dialogues.

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Trump signs order to keep migrant families together, zero tolerance in place

President Donald Trump signed an executive order Wednesday, allowing immigrant families to remain together, a pivot after officials spent days defending the administration's zero tolerance policy.

Trump signs executive order stopping family separation policy

IMAGE: CNS photo/Leah Millis, Reuters

By Mark Pattison

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- President Donald Trump signed an executive order June 20 that halts his administration's family separation policy for families who have crossed the U.S.-Mexico border illegally.

The executive order seeks to work around a 1997 consent decree that bars the federal government from keeping children in immigration detention -- even if they are with their parents -- for more than 20 days. The executive order instructs the attorney general to seek federal court permission to modify the consent decree.

The crisis was spawned when Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a "zero tolerance" policy for border crossers. Under the policy, adults would be charged with a felony rather than a misdemeanor for crossing the border. Under federal statute, those charged with felonies cannot have their children detained with them.

The government earlier in June said 1,995 minors had been separated from 1,940 adults who had crossed the U.S.-Mexico border, although some minors had crossed without their parents or adult kin.

The policy and its upshot stirred some of the most hostile reaction yet of any Trump initiative.

Hours before the executive order was signed, Pope Francis said he stood with the U.S. bishops, who had condemned the family separation policy, which has led to children being held in government shelters while their parents are sent to federal prisons.

Mexico's bishops likewise decried the policy. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was heckled June 19 while she dined at a Mexican restaurant in the Washington area.

Every living former first lady and the current first lady, Melania Trump -- herself an immigrant from Slovenia -- expressed their sorrow, or a stronger emotion, at the sight of children being separated from their parents.

"My wife feels strongly about it. I feel strongly about it. I think anybody with a heart would feel strongly about it," Trump said during the June 20 signing ceremony in the Oval Office, with Nielsen and Vice President Mike Pence flanking him.

"I don't like the sight or the feeling of families being separated," Trump added. "This will solve that problem and at the same time we are keeping a very strong border."

Even so, the executive order is not necessarily a panacea. It allows the Department of Homeland Security to detain families together "under present resource constraints." The "temporary detention policy" also is only in effect "to the extent permitted by law and subject to the availability of appropriations."

Pence criticized those who make a "false choice" between being "a nation of laws" and showing compassion.

"We expect the House to act this week. We expect them to do their job," Nielsen said. The House is considering two immigration bills, although neither dealt in particular with the family separation policy.

"You will have a lot of happy people," Trump said as he signed the executive order. "What we have done today is we are keeping families together."

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Follow Pattison on Twitter: @MeMarkPattison

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Uptick in abuse claims likely after high-profile case brought to light

IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob Roller

By Mark Pattison

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- An increase in calls to dioceses to report claims of clergy sexual abuse has happened before, and is likely to happen again in the wake of the credible claim lodged against Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington, according to the head of the U.S. bishops' Secretariat for Child and Youth Protection.

Those claims and inquiries, though, won't solely be about Cardinal McCarrick, said Deacon Bernie Nojadera, executive director of the secretariat.

Deacon Nojadera said the most noticeable such example was following the Boston Globe's "Spotlight" series examining clergy sex abuse in the Archdiocese of Boston in early 2002. Another such example he gave was the release of the movie "Spotlight," based on the newspaper's reportage. In the film's case, though, he added, abuse reports "weren't just about clergy sex abuse, but all kinds of abuse."

Much of this results, he said, "because there's this invitation (by dioceses) to survivors to please come forward."

When they do, diocesan victim assistance coordinators realize "you only have one shot" to engage with someone reporting abuse, Deacon Nojadera said.

Deacon Nojadera, in a June 20 interview with Catholic News Service, outlined the difference between "credible" and "substantiated" claims of abuse. Both terms were used in the Archdiocese of New York's report of the complaint against Cardinal McCarrick in the 1971 incident.

"Credible" means "it could have happened," Deacon Nojadera said. "There's truth to this."

"Substantiated," though, means "there's evidence to back this up," he added. That evidence is born out in a police investigation of the incident, a practice followed by the New York Archdiocese in the complaint against Cardinal McCarrick. "There's something that points to (the fact) that this, indeed, did happen."

In his June 20 statement accepting the Vatican's directive he cease any public ministry, Cardinal McCarrick said he did not recall the incident and "believe(s) in my innocence."

The incident was 47 years ago. Given all of the reports of abuse that have been filed since 2002 when the scandal in Boston was exposed, it may seem hard to believe that there are those who still had not reported abuse.

"We've had people report abuse from the Thirties," Deacon Nojadera told CNS. Each person who was victimized by abuse gets ready to discuss it at their own time, he added, although for some "that will be a secret they keep with them and go with them to the grave."

Fear, embarrassment and shame factor into the unwillingness to report abuse. Some victims live "in a small diocese, a small town, where everybody knows everybody," he said, and are wary of reporting abuse given those circumstances.

Those who do come forward, however, will be treated "with the utmost respect" by those they contact at the diocese, the deacon said. Should there be an influx, most dioceses have forged partnerships with hospitals, mental health professionals and the Catholic Charities agencies in their dioceses to provide services a victim needs.

Just as the diocesan net has widened to offer assistance to victims, the number and kinds of people showing an interest in preventing abuse and rendering aid also has expanded. What used to be known as a "safe environment leader-victim assistance leader" conference has since been rechristened the "Child and Youth Protection Catholic Leadership Conference," with one held recently in New Orleans, attracting bishops and vicar generals.

"It's not just one or two people in a diocese, not just one or two people in a parish" who are addressing abuse, Deacon Nojadera said.

Now, with one of the highest-ranking U.S. church officials having been credibly accused of abuse, will the reporting of abuse stop anytime soon?

"I get asked this at conferences," Deacon Nojadera said. "and I tell them it will stop with the Second Coming."

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Update: Pope supports U.S. bishops' criticism of 'immoral' immigration policy

IMAGE: CNS photo/Adrees Latif, Reuters

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis said he stands with the U.S. bishops who recently condemned the Trump administration's policy on immigration that has led to children being held in government shelters while their parents are sent to federal prisons.

"I am on the side of the bishops' conference," Pope Francis said in an interview with the Reuters news agency, published online June 20. "Let it be clear that in these things, I respect (the position of) the bishops' conference."

On the first day of their June 13-14 spring assembly in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, read a statement on behalf of the bishops denouncing the government's zero-tolerance policy.

"Families are the foundational element of our society, and they must be able to stay together. While protecting our borders is important, we can and must do better as a government, and as a society, to find other ways to ensure that safety. Separating babies from their mothers is not the answer and is immoral," the statement said.

The political rise of populist movements in both the United States and in Europe has led to a severe crackdown on men, women and children trying to escape war, violence, poverty and persecution.

In Italy, Interior Minister Matteo Salvini banned the NGO rescue ship Aquarius, with more than 600 migrants aboard, to dock and has vowed to stop any foreign boats carrying rescued migrants into the country.

The separation of families in the United States, however, isn't a new problem, the pope said.

In a transcript of the interview shared by Reuters, the pope said, "During Obama's (presidency), I celebrated Mass at Ciudad Juarez, on the border, and on the other side there were 50 bishops concelebrating and in the stadium there were many people. The problem was already there; it wasn't just Trump but also the government before."

Nevertheless, Pope Francis said the current wave of populist rhetoric against migrants was "creating psychosis" and that people seeking a better life should not be rejected.

Europe, he added, is facing a "great demographic winter" and, without immigration, the continent "will become empty."

"Some governments are working on it, and people have to be settled in the best possible way, but creating psychosis is not the cure," he said. "Populism does not resolve things. What resolves things is acceptance, study, prudence."

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju


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New York Archdiocese posts timeline on cardinal's ministry, abuse claim

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NEW YORK (CNS) -- The Archdiocese of New York has posted an FAQ providing a timeline of Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick's ministry in the church, information on how the archdiocese learned of an abuse allegation against the prelate now deemed credible and the church's procedure for addressing abuse claims.

Early June 20, Cardinal McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington, said in a statement he will no longer exercise any public ministry "in obedience" to the Vatican after an allegation that he abused a teenager 47 years ago was found credible. "While shocked by the report, and while maintaining my innocence," the prelate said, he said he cooperated with the investigation into the claim.

Here is the FAQ posted at https://archny.org/tm-faq:

Q: When did Cardinal McCarrick serve in the Archdiocese of New York?

A: He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of New York on May 1, 1958, and he remained a priest of the archdiocese until his appointment as the bishop of Metuchen, New Jersey, in 1981. While a priest of the archdiocese, his assignments included: serving as assistant chaplain, dean and director of development at The Catholic University of America in Washington (1958-1965); president of the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico (1965-1969); associate secretary for education for the archdiocese and parochial vicar of Blessed Sacrament Parish, Manhattan (1969-1971); secretary to Cardinal Terence J. Cooke (1971-1977); auxiliary bishop (1977-1981).

Q: How did the Archdiocese of New York learn of this allegation?

A: The allegation came to us through the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program (IRCP), which was established by the Archdiocese of New York two years ago as part of its ongoing effort to renew its contrition to those who suffered sexual abuse as a minor by a priest or deacon of the archdiocese and bring a sense of healing, resolution and compensation to victim-survivors. The program is administered by Kenneth Feinberg and his associate, Camille Biros.

Q: How did the Archdiocese of New York respond to the allegation?

A: The first step was to notify the district attorney. Then, because this allegation involved a cardinal, the archdiocese contacted the Holy See, which has exclusive authority in the oversight of a cardinal. The Holy See delegated New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, as the archbishop of the diocese where the alleged abuse occurred, to investigate the matter, following the requirements of the "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People" and the policies of the Archdiocese of New York. This includes reporting the matter to law enforcement, and having the entire matter examined by outside professional investigators and the Archdiocesan Review Board, which found the allegation to be credible and substantiated.

Q: Can you provide details of the allegation?

A: Out of respect for the privacy of the victim, we will not release specific details about the allegation. Of course, there is no prohibition or restriction on the victim, who can choose to speak about any aspect of the case, including the allegation and how the case was handled by the IRCP, the Review Board, and the archdiocese.

Q: What happens now to Cardinal McCarrick?

A: As with all cases of substantiated abuse by a priest or deacon, the matter is now in the hands of the Holy See, which has final authority to determine what "punishment" to impose. This could range from living a life of prayer and penance, to a dismissal from the clerical state. Cardinal McCarrick has already been directed by the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, that he is no longer to publicly exercise his priestly ministry.

Q: Where is Cardinal McCarrick now?

A: Cardinal McCarrick is the retired archbishop of Washington and continues to reside with them. He is 87 years old and in frail health. (He turns 88 July 7.)

Q: Isn't this all just another black eye for the Catholic Church?

A: This news will certainly be shocking and painful, especially to Catholics, and will cause many to wonder if this tragedy of abuse will ever end. At the same time, however, it should be noted that, fortunately, the policies and procedures put into place by the church are working. Although this case involves activity from nearly a half-century ago, the allegation was taken seriously, the matter was thoroughly and carefully investigated, and the decision is being publicly announced. No one, not even a cardinal, is above the law or our strict policies. The church can never be complacent, and must always do all that it can to prevent abuse, and respond with compassion, sensitivity and respect to victim-survivors who come forward. In this, it can be a model for others who are looking to respond to this sin and crime that affects all segments of society.

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Out of this world: Vatican's care for creation includes final frontier

No periphery is far enough away to escape a pope's purview. Not even outer space.      From Pope Gregory XIII's observational tower built in the Vatican Gardens in the 16th century so celestial studies could aid the reform of the calendar to Pope Leo XIII, who officially re-founded the Vatican Observatory in the late 19th century, popes have kept their eyes fixed on the heavens.

DiNardo: All clergy, no matter their 'standing,' must protect children

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WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said June 20 that all clergy in the Catholic Church "have made a solemn promise to protect children and young people from all harm."

"This sacred charge applies to all who minister in the church, no matter the person's high standing or long service," said Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston.

He made the comments in a statement issued in response to the announcement that Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington, will no longer exercise any public ministry after an allegation he abused a teenager 47 years ago was found credible.

"This morning was a painful reminder of how only through continued vigilance can we keep that promise" of protecting children and young people, Cardinal DiNardo said, without mentioning Cardinal McCarrick by name. "My prayers are with all who have experienced the trauma of sexual abuse. May they find healing in Christ's abundant love."

He said the U.S. bishops' "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People," first approved in 2002, "outlines a process for addressing allegations, holding us accountable to our commitment to protect and heal."

He expressed gratitude to New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, "who has carried forward with clarity, compassion for the victims, and a genuine sense of justice. With him, I express my deep sadness, and on behalf of the church, I apologize to all who have been harmed by one of her ministers."

Cardinal McCarrick, who turns 88 July 7, was ordained a priest of the New York Archdiocese May 31, 1958. He was named auxiliary bishop of New York in 1977. He was appointed the first bishop of Metuchen, New Jersey, in 1981 and was named archbishop of Newark, New Jersey, in 1986. He was installed as archbishop of Washington in 2001. He was made a cardinal in Feb. 21, 2001, and retired as head of the Washington Archdiocese May 16, 2006.

In his statement, Cardinal McCarrick said that Cardinal Dolan had informed him "some months ago" of the abuse allegation.

"While shocked by the report, and while maintaining my innocence, I considered it essential that the charges be reported to the police, thoroughly investigated by an independent agency and given to the Review Board of the Archdiocese of New York," Cardinal McCarrick said. "I fully cooperated in the process."

He will no longer exercise any public ministry "in obedience" to the Vatican, he said.

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Bishops 'cannot, in good faith, endorse' new GOP immigration bill

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WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The U.S. bishops "cannot, in good faith, endorse" an immigration bill submitted by the House's Republican leadership, said Bishop Joe S. Vasquez of Austin, Texas, chairman of the bishops' Committee on Migration.

Bishop Vasquez said the bill would bring about "large structural changes to the immigration system that detrimentally impact families and the vulnerable." He said the new bill, still without a name or number, "contains several provisions that run contrary to our Catholic social teaching."

He made the comments in a letter dated June 18 and sent to each member of the House. It was posted June 19 on the U.S. bishops' website justiceforimmigrants.org.

Bishop Vasquez said this unnamed bill would "undermine asylum protections by significantly raising the hurdle applicants face during the 'credible fear' review, lead to increases in child and family detention ' eliminate protection for unaccompanied minors through the proposed changes to the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, includes part of the DACA (Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals)-eligible population but does not include same population eligible in the USA Act and the DREAM Act, make sweeping cuts to family-based immigration and unilaterally implement a safe third country agreement without a bilateral or multilateral treaty or agreement."

Nor would the bill "end the practice of separating families at the U.S.-Mexico border, he added. "Instead, this bill would increase the number of children and families in detention, which is not acceptable." Bishop Vasquez reminded House members the Trump administration can end its family separation policy, without the need for legislation, at its own discretion.

Bishop Vasquez added, "We believe that any such legislation must be bipartisan, provide Dreamers with a path to citizenship, be pro-family, protect the vulnerable and be respectful of human dignity with regard to border security and enforcement."

The Uniting and Securing America Act (USA) Act, which he referenced in the letter, would protect Dreamers and strengthens border security. The DREAM (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) Act, which he also mentioned, primarily would offer a path to citizenship for DACA recipients and other Dreamers.

In the letter, Bishop Vasquez reminded House members the Trump administration can end its family separation policy without the need for legislation through its own discretion, and that an immigration bill could secure the U.S. border and ensure humane treatment to immigrant families through alternative policies.

Given the newness of the bill, "we ask for timely consideration of our concerns," Bishop Vasquez said, "particularly the cuts to family-based immigration, as well as the harmful changes to the asylum system and existing protections for unaccompanied children. Without such changes to these measures, we would be compelled to oppose it."

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, has pledged to bring both the new bill and H.R. 4760, the Securing America's Future Act, to the House floor for votes. Bishop Vasquez, in January, wrote to the House opposing H.R. 4760. In the June 18 letter, he said, "we respectfully urge you to reject" it.

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Editor's Note: The full text of the letter can be found at https://bit.ly/2I3gDFf.

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Update: Bishops across U.S. condemn separation, detention of children

IMAGE: CNS photo/Callaghan O'Hare, Reuters

By Rhina Guidos

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- From Denver to New York City, the country's Catholic bishops have joined a chorus of organizations, institutions and high-profile individuals urging the Trump administration to stop separating children from their parents as they seek respite in the U.S. from dire conditions in their home countries, largely in Central America.

None have been more outspoken, however, than the bishops with dioceses on or near the border between the U.S. and Mexico, where many migrants, adults as well as children, are being held in detention centers in geographic areas where many of the prelates come into contact with families affected.

"Refugee children belong to their parents, not to the government or other institution. To steal children from their parents is a grave sin, immoral (and) evil," said San Antonio's Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller June 14 via Twitter, the social media platform he has used to daily call attention to the situation.

"Their lives have already been extremely difficult. Why do we (the U.S.) torture them even more, treating them as criminals?" he continued.

In a June 5 interview with CBS News, U.S Attorney General Jeff Sessions said: "If people don't want to be separated from their children, they should not bring them with them," meaning they shouldn't bring them along when trying to cross the border, which many do as they seek asylum. The furor over the separation of children from a parent or parents had already started in late May, before Sessions used a Bible passage to justify the actions.

Bishop Daniel E. Flores of the Diocese of Brownsville, Texas, said via Twitter May 31 that "separating immigrant parents and children as a supposed deterrent to immigration is a cruel and reprehensible policy. Children are not instruments of deterrence, they are children. A government that thinks any means is suitable to achieve an end cannot secure justice for anyone."

But the outrage began in earnest after the June 14 speech to law enforcement officers in Fort Wayne, Indiana, when Sessions said the practice of separating families is consistent with the teachings of the Bible because "persons who violate the law of our nation are subject to prosecution. I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13 to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of order."

The following day, New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan said during CNN's "Cuomo Prime Time with Chris Cuomo" that while he appreciated Sessions quoting the Bible, the quote he used was not the best.

"For one, St. Paul always says we should obey the law of the government if that law is in conformity with the Lord's law, all right? No pun intended but God's law trumps man's law, all right?" he said.

"And St. Paul himself who gave the quote that the attorney general used, he wouldn't obey Roman law when it said it was mandatory to worship the emperor," the cardinal continued. "He wouldn't obey that law. I don't think we should obey a law that goes against what God intends that you would take a baby, a child, from their mom. I mean, that's just unjust. That's unbiblical. That's un-American. There could be no Bible passage that would justify that."

After Sessions' Bible quote, Bishop Mark J. Seitz of El Paso, Texas, also used the Bible to make a point and compared Christ's time as a refugee in the Holy Land to the migrants.

In a June 15 statement, he compared the distance from his diocese to other localities in Guatemala and Mexico, saying that "if Jesus of Nazareth returned, as at that time, from Galilee to Judea, ... we dare say he would not get as far as Sacred Heart Church downtown (in El Paso) before being detained."

He urged Christians to think about the families fleeing and seeking asylum in the U.S., what they're going through and said that what's at stake "is the fundamental question of being Christian today, of being a person of faith today in our country and on the continent that is suffering an hour of Christ's passion."

Bishop Seitz announced a public prayerful procession "in solidarity with our sisters and brothers who continue to migrate to our border" planned for the evening of July 20 in El Paso but did not release other details. The U.S. bishops also are talking about the possibility of a delegation of prelates going to the detention centers where many children are being held.

In mid-June, The Associated Press said this year "nearly 2,000 children have been separated from their families at the U.S. border over a six-week period during a crackdown on illegal entries," according to documents from the Department of Homeland Security, which operates Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Family separation policies "tear at our core values as a nation," Bishop Oscar A. Solis of Salt Lake City said. "We are, and must continue to be, a beacon of hope for families unable to find basic protections and pathways out of poverty within their home countries."

The U.S. "has a right to protect its borders," but also has "a moral obligation to do so through means that preserve families and the dignity and sanctity of all life," he added. For decades, he noted, "the U.S. bishops have advocated for sensible reforms to our long-broken immigration system."

"Refusing asylum to women escaping from domestic violence and separating children from their parents is an unnecessary and aggressive act against human life, and unfathomable from a country with a heart as strong as ours," Bishop Solis said in a June 18 statement.

Said Archbishop Alexander K. Sample of Portland, Oregon: "Whatever one thinks about the most prudent way to resolve our mounting immigration problems, mercy and charity dictate that we do not potentially cause irreparable harm and trauma when there is another way."

The government has discretion to keep families together in "its implementation of federal immigration law," he said.

"We need to see the real human faces of those affected," Archbishop Sample said. "These are families not unlike our own. In the ongoing debate over immigration issues, the U.S. bishops have always maintained, as a fundamental principle, that families must be kept together."

"St. Thomas Aquinas said that when a human law does not reflect God's law then it becomes an unjust law and even an act of violence," Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez wrote in a June 19 column in Angelus, the archdiocesan news website.

"We need to insist that those who make and enforce our laws guard against this," he said, adding, "That means stop the family separations right now -- and give those 2,000 children back to their moms and dads."

He, too, said the nation's leaders "have a solemn duty to secure our national borders and enforce our immigration laws. No one questions this. But we must find a better way."

Two prelates from Colorado, Denver Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila and Denver Auxiliary Bishop Jorge Rodriguez, repeated what other bishops have said in June 18 statement, saying that while borders must be protected, the policy of separating families is "immoral" and urged that it be terminated immediately, saying those being detained are in need of protection.

"These children and their parents are often fleeing violence and our country should not add to the inhumanity of their situation," they said.

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