In the wake of “a deeply destructive political campaign,” U.S. citizens face the dual task of rising above profound political divisions that tear at the national fabric as well as remaining diligent in addressing “the major wounds of American society,” especially the threat of massive deportations.
The assessment was made by San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy during a Nov. 28 address at the 2016 Catholic Immigrant Integration Initiative Conference at the University of San Diego’s Joan B Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice.
McElroy prefaced his remarks on the need for Catholics to stand in the way of mass deportation of immigrants with a plea for political responsibility. He appealed to those upset at the election of Donald Trump to not follow the example of Barack Obama’s political opponents “who from his election onward worked toward the failure of his presidency.”
Political responsibility as Catholics and Christians, he said, also means dealing with “the profound sickness in the soul of American political life” that “tears at the fabric of our nation’s unity, undermining the core democratic consensus that is the foundation for our identity as Americans.”
Healing, he said, “will require altering the role of partisanship in our individual, social and national lives. Party choice has ceased to be merely a political category and instead has become a wider form of personal identity” that ultimately finds individuals confined “within partisan media and culture silos, and are encouraged in their anger against those who disagree.”
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One of the major wounds in the culture, he said, is the threat to immigrants. In recent months, he said, “the specter of a massive deportation campaign aimed at ripping more than 10 million undocumented immigrants from the lives and families has realistically emerged as potential federal policy. We must label this policy proposal for what it is – an act of injustice which would stain our national honor in the same manner as the progressive dispossessions of the Native American peoples of the United States and the internment of the Japanese.”
For the Catholic community in the United States, “it is unthinkable that we will stand by while more than10 percent of our flock is ripped from our midst and deported. It is equally unthinkable that we as church will witness the destruction of our historic national outreach to refugees at a time when the need to offer safe haven to refugees is growing throughout the world.”
McElroy emphasized the need to maintain protections for those covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. “The DREAMers,” he said, “are everything that Americans seek in those who enter into our society: 85 percent have lived in the United States for more than 10 years; 93 percent have a high school degree, and 40 percent attended college. Eighty-nine percent have a job and pay taxes.” Should the new administration move toward massive deportations, he said, “the Catholic community must move to wide-spread opposition” and “with the same energy, commitment and immediacy that have characterized Catholic opposition on the issues of abortion and religious liberty in recent years.”