Some Catholic bishops have recently suggested that granting amnesty to illegal immigrant children from Central America is consistent with “pro-life” Catholic teachings.
As reported in National Catholic Register, Bishop David Zubik of Pittsburgh said that providing for the needs of the young illegal immigrants is one facet of a truly pro-life philosophy.
“The Catholic Church responds to humanitarian crises here at home and all across the world because we are pro-life,” Zubik said in a statement on July 19th. “Being pro-life requires we protect and care for vulnerable persons from conception to natural death.”
“Whether they are traveling because of poverty, or violence, or with the hope of reuniting with relatives on the other side of the border,” the bishop continued, “followers of Jesus are called to protect these children and help them because they are very vulnerable and defenseless against any abuse or misfortune.”
“At the same time we respect the rule of law and the right of nations to have secure borders,” Zubik said, adding that “respect” refers to the necessity of the international community to determine why people are fleeing their homelands in the first place.
Similarly, Fr. James Melnick, writing at Catholic Stand, states that the recent words of Bishop Anthony Taylor of the Diocese of Little Rock indicate that pro-life issues and immigration are the top concerns of many dioceses in the South.
“When we talk about social doctrine of immigration, we talk about the right to work and the dignity of the human family,” Melnick wrote.
He points to a recent statement by Taylor who observes that the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has found that 58 percent of the illegal women and children immigrants coming across the U.S. border from Mexico qualify as refugees fleeing persecution and, subsequently, “are entitled to legal protections under U.S. law and international law.”
Taylor, who is a member of the Committee on Migration of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, added, “While it is true that some of these 60,000 are not refugees in the strictest sense of the term, all of them come from desperate circumstances.”
Bishop Taylor noted the recent words of Pope Francis: “Such a humanitarian emergency demands as its first measure the urgent protection and properly taking in of the children.”
Taylor said that comprehensive immigration reform is necessary to be able to put “the human person at the center of our economy, at the center of our culture and at the center of our system of laws – a real change in the way we do things as a nation.”
According to MRS, “upwards of 90,000” young illegal immigrants were projected to arrive between October 1, 2013 and September 30, 2014.
Additionally, MRS shows a total budget of approximately $71 million, of which nearly $66 million – or about 93% – has come from federal grants and contracts.
When the U.S. bishops recently denounced as “unprecedented and extreme” President Obama’s executive order banning companies that receive a contract from the federal government from discriminating against LGBT employees, their concern comes from the reality that MRS is essentially a federal government program that is being operated through the bishops’ conference.
That program would likely collapse without federal contracts and grants if the bishops decided to end their partnerships with the government because of an executive order that conflicts with church teaching.