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Tuesday 20 April |

Cardinal Wuerl: ‘When we use the word sanctuary, we have to be careful that we’re not holding out false hope’

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Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 03/06/17

From The Washington Post: 

Cardinal Donald Wuerl,  leader of the Washington Archdiocese’s 620,000 Catholics, said Thursday that the church’s values compel it to oppose the deportation of people already living in the United States. But Wuerl expressed caution about the idea of churches acting as sanctuaries for those seeking to avoid deportation, as some congregations across the country have offered. “When we use the word sanctuary, we have to be very careful that we’re not holding out false hope. We wouldn’t want to say, ‘Stay here, we’ll protect you,’ ” he said, explaining that he’s not sure churches can legally guarantee protection to people who might move into a church building, or that federal agents would necessarily respect the boundaries of a church as a place that they cannot enter. “With separation of church and state, the church really does not have the right to say, ‘You come in this building and the law doesn’t apply to you.’ But we do want to say we’ll be a voice for you.” Wuerl made the comments in a meeting with editors at The Washington Post, where he discussed many issues of interest to the Archdiocese of Washington, which covers the District and much of Maryland and is one of the nation’s most prominent Catholic dioceses…. …Wuerl said repeatedly during his discussion with Post editors that he did not feel it was his place to voice opinions on specific government policies. But he did name serving the needs of immigrants — from providing food to offering legal representation — as one of the archdiocese’s highest priorities now. “When we come to something like immigration, our voice is always going to be: Aren’t we supposed to be welcoming people, especially those who are fleeing persecution?” Wuerl said.

Read on. 

In January, he wrote a letter to his priests about the recent executive order on refugees:

As I recently noted, we are called to care for one another, whether it be our longstanding neighbor down the street, or a newcomer to our nation seeking relief from brutal religious and political persecution. It was earlier this month that our Holy Father reminded us that “Biblical revelation urges us to welcome the stranger; it tells us that in so doing, we open our doors to God, and that in the faces of others we see the face of Christ himself.” Here in our Church of Washington, we strive to do just that every day, through our pastoral care, through our many services at the parish level and at Catholic Charities, and in some cases, by simply raising our voices to confirm the dignity of every human life. Last Friday at our Rallies and Masses for Life, and at the March for Life, our voices – our presence – could not be ignored in the defense of the unborn and life at every stage. So too now do we raise our voices in support of all refugees, especially those fleeing religious persecution. As the federal government pursues any legitimate national security concerns, we hope that it will do so not at the expense of innocent people who are in need, and that it will take all necessary actions to ensure that their safety is protected and that it will expedite all processes to address the need for humanitarian relief.

Stay tuned.

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