An archbishop in New Mexico has received several unhappy responses after he made a statement denouncing US immigration policy.
Archbishop John Wester said that since then people have wrote to him saying they were “dismayed” at his lack of respect for immigration laws.
He added that sometimes people say, “what don’t you understand about illegal?” and has heard others talk about “those illegals”.
The archbishop said that “laws are meant to protect human beings, not break them”, adding that “it is important to establish that no human being is ‘illegal’”.
On May 25 he issued a memo to employees telling them what to do if federal immigration officials attempt to carry a raid on Church property.
He urged others “not to be taken in by political sound bites or rhetoric that instils fear”.
Overall Church leaders have been trying to comfort immigrant Catholic communities, while at the same time responding to criticism from other Catholics about their outreach to immigrants.
A statement from the Maryland Catholic Conference issued last week read: “The issue of immigration continues to raise controversy at both the national and state level, often spurring passionate debate that offers little hope for reconciliation and resolution.”
It urged Catholics and “all people of faith and goodwill” to show “compassion, prudence, and cooperation to address the challenges faced by immigrants, elected officials, law enforcement and our communities as a whole”.