U.S. Catholic bishops

Thomas Reese 9-13-2017

Image via RNS/Reuters/Carlo Allegri/File Photo

“It is preposterous to claim that justice for immigrants isn’t central to Catholic teaching,” wrote Rogers. “It comes directly from Jesus Himself in Matthew 25, ‘For I was hungry and you gave me food … a stranger and you welcomed me.’ Immigrants and refugees are precisely the strangers we must welcome. This isn’t Catholic partisanship. The Bible is clear: welcoming immigrants is indispensable to our faith.”

Image via Thanate Rooprasert/Shutterstock.com

First came the mayors of New York, Chicago, and Seattle declaring their cities “sanctuaries”, and saying they will protect undocumented immigrants from President-elect Donald Trump’s plan to deport them.

Then thousands of students, professors, alumni, and others at elite universities, including Harvard, Yale, and Brown, signed petitions, asking their schools to protect undocumented students from any executive order.

Now, religious congregations, including churches and synagogues, are declaring themselves “sanctuaries” for immigrants fleeing deportation.

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz (center left) of Louisville, Ky. RNS photo by David Gibson

After a closed-door session at their annual meeting in Baltimore this month, the U.S. Catholic bishops issued an unusual "special message" reaffirming their long-standing opposition to the Obama administration’s birth control insurance mandate.

On one level, the declaration and the united front were no surprise: The American church hierarchy has made opposition to the mandate a hallmark of its public lobbying efforts, framing the issue as an unprecedented infringement of religious freedom.

Several bishops even vowed to go to jail rather than comply with the mandate. Others threatened to shutter the church’s infrastructure of hospitals, charitable ministries, schools, and universities rather than accept a policy that they say would force Catholic employers to provide health insurance that covers sterilization and perhaps abortion-inducing drugs as well as contraception.

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