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The push for sanctuary was on a lot of minds at the U.S. Regional World Meeting of Popular Movements. Concerns about President Donald Trump’s intention to deport millions of unauthorized immigrants rose throughout the Feb. 16-19 gathering of more than 600 grass-roots and church leaders in California’s Central Valley. Declaring sanctuary for people fearing forced removal and the breakup of family life was one way to resist government actions, activists and Catholic clergy said. Auxiliary Bishop Edward M. Deliman of Philadelphia, who also is pastor of St. Charles Borromeo Parish in suburban Bensalem, received a standing ovation when he told the gathering Feb. 18 that “what would be disruptive would be if we would declare our parish a sanctuary church.”
Related: Seeking sanctuary in a church: What does it mean today?“If that would spread and every parish in the diocese would do the same, we certainly could do what Jesus would want us to do,” said Bishop Deliman, who has ministered alongside Latinos in the archdiocese for most of the 44 years of his priesthood. Afterward, the bishop told Catholic News Service that offering sanctuary at the parish is being considered and that he planned to discuss the idea with Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput. Representatives of community and church organizations working with unauthorized immigrants reported throughout the meeting that they have seen a rising level of fear and uncertainty among Latinos since Trump took office Jan. 20 and started to make good on campaign pledges to crack down on people in the country illegally.