Catholic Leaders: Seeking Asylum is Not a Crime

Christopher White writes:

As President Donald Trump prepares to send 5,200 troops to Mexican border to block some 4,000 Central American asylum-seekers, Catholic leaders are urging governments to address the underlying causes of migration while reminding people that seeking asylum is not a crime.

A joint statement on Monday from the heads of the major Catholic migration and relief agencies in the United States urged compassion and a commitment to seeking “humane solutions that honor the rule of law and respect the dignity of human life.”

“As Catholic agencies assisting poor and vulnerable migrants in the United States and around the world, we are deeply saddened by the violence, injustice, and deteriorating economic conditions forcing many people to flee their homes in Central America,” wrote Bishop Joe Vásquez, Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration; Sean Callahan, President and CEO of Catholic Relief Services (CRS); and Sister Donna Markham, President and CEO of Catholic Charities USA…

“We affirm that seeking asylum is not a crime. We urge all governments to abide by international law and existing domestic laws that protect those seeking safe haven, and to ensure that all those who are returned to their home country are protected and repatriated safely,” they said…

Border Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego concurred, telling Crux “it is impossible to separate the sending of this large contingent of troops to the border, at this supremely political movement, from the torrent of hatred that has been cast upon those who are merely seeking the same dream that led the great majority of our ancestors to these shores.”

“We have the responsibility to control our borders, but in exercising that responsibility we must continually witness to the humanity of those desperately seeking freedom and safety through the caravan,” he warned, “or else we risk losing our own humanity.”

Why ‘Obey the Law’ is an Inadequate Response from Christians on Migration

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Millennial writer Meghan Clark writes:

A just law is one that upholds human dignity and is directed at the common good. For St. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, laws that fail to do so are unjust and improper. An unjust law is not binding upon Christian consciences. Movements for justice often invoke this basic Christian tradition challenging unjust laws and structures. During the violent and repressive military dictatorship in El Salvador, Oscar Romero urged members of the police and military to disobey unjust orders and stop the repression. Preaching days before his assassination, Romero reminded the faithful, “The law has to be at the service of human dignity and not focused on legal details that so often can trample people’s honor.” Any law that dehumanizes or violates human dignity is unjust…

Conflating law and justice requires ignoring history. Slavery and segregation were legal but they were never just. In his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” King reminded his critics that “everything Hitler did in Germany was legal” and it was illegal to “aid and comfort” a Jewish person in Hitler’s Germany. King broke unjust laws and organized others to do so as well. Civil disobedience as practiced by King exemplifies a deep respect for rule of law while refusing to idolize a particular legal system. Laws matter, but they must be just in both form and application.

King noticed the greatest opposition to dismantling unjust laws often comes from those “more devoted to order than to justice” and those who have a “shallow understanding” of the situation…

For those fleeing violence, persecution, and poverty, there are no good options. Everyone agrees the current system is broken, yet political will to create a just system continues to elude the nation. As Christians, we are called to distinguish between what is legal and what is just, to challenge unjust laws, and to prioritize dignity over order.

Pope Prays for Victims of Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting

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via Vatican News:

Pope Francis prayed that “the Most High might welcome into His peace those who have died; comfort their families; and sustain those who were wounded.”

In reality, he said, “we are all wounded by this inhuman act of violence.” Pope Francis prayed that the Lord might “help us to extinguish the hotbeds of hatred that are developing in our societies, strengthening the sense of humanity, respect for life, moral and civil values, and the holy fear of God, who is Love and the Father of all.”

End Hunger, the Poor Cannot Wait

via CNS:

At a time of technological and scientific progress, “we ought to feel shame” for not having advanced in “humanity and solidarity” enough to feed the world’s poor, Pope Francis said. “Neither can we console ourselves simply for having faced emergencies and desperate situations of those most in need. We are all called to go further. We can and we must do better for the helpless,” the pope said in a message to world leaders attending a meeting of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome….

The pope called for policies of cooperation for development that are oriented toward meeting the real needs of the people: “The struggle against hunger urgently demands generous financing, the abolition of trade barriers and, above all, greater resilience in the face of climate change, economic crises and warfare,” he said. While one can dream of a future without hunger, the pope said it is only reasonable to do so “when we engage in tangible processes, vital relations, effective plans and real commitments.”…

“We overlook the structural aspects that shroud the tragedy of hunger: extreme inequality, poor distribution of the world’s resources, consequences of climate change and the interminable and bloody conflicts which ravage many regions,” he said. “Some may say that we still have 12 years ahead in which to carry this out” to meet the 2030 goal, the pope acknowledged. But “the poor cannot wait. Their devastating circumstances do not allow this.”

Cardinal Kasper: No Substantial Difference between Benedict and Francis

Christopher White writes:

As one of the major protagonists of the Francis papacy – and arguably of the Catholic Church since Vatican II – German Cardinal Walter Kasper argues, “there is no real substantial difference between Pope Benedict and Pope Francis.”

“They are different personalities of course, different backgrounds,” said Kasper. “One is European, the other comes from Latin America. [But] if you read exactly what they write, it’s the same line and substance.”