Catholic Bishops Are Opposing Immigration Reform That Would Aid Same-Gender Couples

immigrationNews earlier this week that President Obama and many Hispanic political organizations were backing an immigration reform proposal that would grant visas to same-gender partners of American citizens offered hope that this long hoped for change would become law.

The U.S. Catholic bishops, along with Evangelical leaders, are dropping a monkey wrench into the works, however, by opposing such a measure.  The Associated Press reports:

“The nation’s Roman Catholic bishops are in a difficult position as the debate over immigration reform gets underway: The immigrant-built American church, known for advocating a broad welcome for migrants and refugees, could end up opposing reform because it would recognize same-sex partners. . . .

“. . . Catholic bishops, with the support of evangelicals and other theological conservatives, have sent a letter to Obama protesting his proposal. In a sign of the sensitivity of the issue, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops would not provide a copy of the statement, saying the signatories agreed not to make the letter public. Sister Mary Ann Walsh, a spokeswoman for the bishops, would say only that recognition of gay couples in the president’s reform proposals ‘jeopardizes passage of the bill.’ “

What is remarkable in this opposition is that the bishops seem willing to forego real immigration reform because of their opposition to supporting lesbian and gay couples in committed relationships.   Similar to many diocese’s decisions to forego all adoption services rather than use gay and lesbian couples as potential parents, the US bishops’ seem intent on following a scorched earth policy on immigration.

The Associated Press report points out what most Catholics already know:  that progressive immigration policy has long been supported by US bishops.  Key to this support has been the idea of keeping families intact.  The news story states:

“Americans church leaders have spent decades lobbying for revisions that would keep families together and fulfill what the church considers the duty of all countries, especially wealthier ones, to do as much as possible to help the poor and persecuted. The church and Catholic groups run a network of aid programs for migrants, refugees and illegal immigrants, taking positions that recognize the country’s right to protect its borders, but that still fall ‘to the left of the Democratic Party,’ [Stephen] Schneck [a political science professor at The Catholic University of America] said. . . .

“In a 2003 joint plea for immigration reform, called ‘Strangers No Longer,’ U.S. and Mexican bishops stated, ‘Regardless of their legal status, migrants, like all persons, possess inherent human dignity that should be respected.’

“The issue is of special historic importance to the American Catholic church, which was built by waves of Irish, Italians, Poles and others. The immigrant presence in the pews is now growing as American-born white Catholics drop out in significant numbers. Researchers estimate that a third of the 66 million U.S. Catholics are Latino.

” ‘This is an issue that has been a huge priority for the church for a really long time,’ said Kristin Heyer, a professor at Santa Clara University in California who studies immigration and Catholic social thought. ‘The wider Catholic community, in addition to the bishops, has mobilized in a major way.’ “

To correct the bishops’ policy direction, lay Catholics now need to mobilize to let the hierarchy know that Catholics believe ALL families should be protected by immigration law.  Contact your bishop and let him know that you believe that respecting human dignity applies to ALL immigrants, not just heterosexual ones.  Contact your federal legislators too, and let them know that your Catholic faith motivates you to support inclusive immigration reform that President Obama has proposed.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


0 replies
  1. Terri Hemker
    Terri Hemker says:

    Ok! I’m getting really expletive deleted tired of this. And I’m Catholic, but, I’ve had enough of the Pope and the hierarchy for one lifetime. I’m really thinking the whole church could do quite nicely without them. Why do they think it’s their business to push their laws on everyone else in the whole country when they’re not all Catholic or even Christian. It’s like the bloody Taliban. And I’ve just had enough of it. And I’m not going to take it anymore!

  2. Jenny Nugent
    Jenny Nugent says:

    Apparently there’s no homophobe as vicious as a gay homophobe, so full of self-hatred that they are determined to destroy everything in their path. I can think of no other reason for this kind of attack. And they are so cowardly, they won’t even stand by what they think are their convictions. This is absolutely beyond imagining. God bless them in their pain.

  3. Joseph Gentilini
    Joseph Gentilini says:

    The more the Catholic bishops support discrimination, the more people will dismiss what they say. My Catholic spirituality does not depend on what the Bishops say – they are becoming irrelevant. I truly believe that Christ would not support what the bishops are doing. They are acting like Pharisees! JOe

  4. Chaplain Bill
    Chaplain Bill says:

    Last night I watched Alex Gibney’s “Mea Maxima Culpa” on HBO. While we all know much of the sorted details of the Roman Church’s worldwide sex abuse scandal and the Mafia-like coverup by the hierarchy (all the way to B16), it was horrible to watch. And the commentator make a point that there will be future waves of disclosures in Africa, South America, and Asia on the level of what we have seen in the U.S. and Europe.

    The insistence by the bishops on their exact policies regarding US immigration reform is mind boggling against the larger and ongoing problem of sex abuse in the church. If I were the bishops, I’d definitely want to change the subject as well.


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  1. […] thus undercutting the church’s institutional witness. In 2013, the USCCB threatened to withdraw support for immigration reform over a provision granting benefits to same-gender couples. A number of […]

  2. […] Catholic Bishops Are Opposing Immigration Reform That Would Aid Same-Gender Couples ( […]

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