Immigration Leads Agenda as U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Turns 100

The nation’s Catholic bishops, holding their annual fall meeting this week in Baltimore, will take up immigration, an issue on which they are in direct conflict with President Donald J. Trump.

“The urgent need to welcome and integrate new waves of immigrants continues unabated,” Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the No. 2 official at the Vatican, said at a Mass Sunday evening at the Baltimore Basilica. “At the same time, the Catholic community is called under your guidance to work for an ever more just and inclusive society.”

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, archbishop of a diocese with 800,000 Spanish-speaking members and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, is also expected to focus on the subject in his opening speech Monday at the Waterfront Marriott Hotel. Later, the more than 300 bishops attending from across the country will hear a working group on immigration update the body on its activities over the past year.

The bishops’ position — and that of the worldwide Roman Catholic Church — is that immigration, legal or otherwise, should be understood and addressed first and foremost as a humanitarian matter, not a political or legal one.

Trump was elected last year on promises to build a wall on the Southwest border, deport more undocumented immigrants and ban the entry of Muslims. His Department of Justice has ended the Obama-era program that shielded people who were brought to the country illegally as children from deportation, and his Department of Homeland Security ended Temporary Protected Status last week for Nicaraguans who have been allowed to stay in the United States since Hurricane Mitch ravaged Central America in 1999.

DiNardo, whose fellow bishops voted him their leader days after the presidential election last year, has repeatedly voiced the conference’s opposition to Trump administration actions on immigration.

“Today, our nation has done the opposite of how Scripture calls us to respond,” DiNardo and other conference leaders said in a statement. “It is a step back from the progress that we need to make as a country.”

By Jonathan M. Pitts for THE BALTIMORE SUN
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