Catholic leaders push immigration as pro-life issue

A statement challenging pro-life Catholic members of the House of Representatives to view immigration reform as a pro-life issue was released Tuesday.

"As Catholics committed to building a culture of life, we write to urge our fellow Catholics in Congress to support the U.S. bishops' effort to pass comprehensive immigration reform," the statement reads. "Our nation's inhumane and flawed immigration policies leave migrant women, children and families abandoned by the side of the road."

The statement was signed by a number of influential American Catholics (the full list is included below), and comes days before the March for Life, an annual pro-life demonstration expected to draw "hundreds of thousands" to Washington, D.C. 

On the same day, the U.S. House of Representatives will vote on a bill that would ban abortions past 20 weeks, the point at which fetuses are said to feel pain. 

The statement contends that America's failure to address immigration reform causes "hardship, suffering and death."

"There are more than two dozen pro-life Catholics in the House of Representatives," the statement reads. "Many of them will join thousands of people of faith, including some of us, at the March for Life in Washington later this week. As brothers and sisters in faith, we urge these elected officials and all Catholics to defend the sanctity of human lives at all stages. We recognize the image of God in the migrant at the border, in the prisoner on death row, in the pregnant woman and in the hungry child."

"The immigration crisis will not be solved by threats to shut down government agencies, enforcement-only strategies or piecemeal approaches. Breaking up immigrant families and denying protection to those fleeing gang or cartel violence, as just one example, is neither a humane or effective strategy. Comprehensive immigration reform that would create an earned path to citizenship for those in the shadows, expedite family reunification, strengthen refugee protection, address why desperate people reluctantly uproot and cross borders, deserves a vote now."

The list of signers includes: 

Rev. Larry Snyder
President, Catholic Charities USA

Archbishop Joseph A. Fiorenza (retired)
Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston

John J. DeGioia
President, Georgetown University

Bishop William S. Skylstad (retired)
Diocese of Spokane
Former President, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

Donald M. Kerwin, Jr.
Executive Director, Center for Migration Studies

Michael Galligan-Stierle
President, Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities

Rev. Michael Sheeran, S.J.
President, Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities

Rev. Michael J. Graham, S.J.
President, Xavier University (Ohio)

Rev. Robert L. Niehoff, S.J.
President, John Carroll University

Rev. Michael J. Garanzini, S.J.
President, Loyola University Chicago

Rev. Kevin Wildes, S.J.
President, Loyola University New Orleans

Thomas W. Keefe
President, University of Dallas

Rev. James J. Greenfield, OSFS
President, Conference of Major Superiors of Men

Sr. Sharon Holland, IHM,
President, Leadership Conference of Women Religious

Rev. Timothy Kesicki, S.J.
President, Jesuit Conference USA

Armando Borja
National Director, Jesuit Refugee Service/USA

Stephen Schneck
Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies
The Catholic University of America

Frank Monahan
Former Director, Office of Government Liaison
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

Francis X. Doyle
Associate General Secretary (retired)
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

Sr. Simone Campbell, SSS
Executive Director, NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby

Sr. Patricia Chappell
Executive Director, Pax Christi USA

Rev. Joseph M. McShane, S.J.
President, Fordham University

Rev. Philip L. Boroughs, S.J.
President, College of the Holy Cross

Rev. John P. Fitzgibbons, S.J.
President, Regis University

Patricia McGuire
President, Trinity Washington University

Antoine M. Garibaldi, Ph.D.
President, University of Detroit Mercy

Rev. Thomas B. Curran
President, Rockhurst University

John J. Hurley
President, Canisius College

Linda M. LeMura, Ph.D.
President, Le Moyne College

Sr. Candace Introcaso
President, La Roche College

Rev. Bernard O'Connor
President, DeSales University

Dr. Francesco C. Cesareo
President, Assumption College

Donna M. Carroll
President, Dominican University

Antoine M. Garibaldi, Ph.D.
President, University of Detroit Mercy

Thomas W. Keefe
President, University of Dallas

Thomas Kunkel
President, St. Norbert College

Rev. Jeffrey von Arx, S.J.
President, Fairfield University

Moya Dittmeier
Executive Director, Conference for Mercy Higher Education

Rev. Allan Figueroa Deck, S.J.
Rector of the Jesuit Community
Loyola Marymount University

A. Gabriel Esteban
President, Seton Hall University

Nancy H. Blattner
President, Caldwell University

Br. Norman Hipps
President, Saint Vincent College

John Smarrelli Jr.
President, Christian Brothers University

Mary A. Meehan
President, Alverno College

Donald P. Taylor
President, Cabrini College

Rev. Timothy Lenchak
President, Divine Word College

Anne Munley
President, Marywood University

Sharon Latchaw Hirsch
President, Rosemont College

Jim Collins
President, Loras College

Br. John R. Paige
President, Holy Cross College

Kathleen Maas Weigert
Professor of Women and Leadership
Loyola University Chicago

Timothy Matovina
Executive Director, Institute for Latino Studies
University of Notre Dame

Rev. Daniel G. Groody
Director of Immigration Initiatives
Institute for Latino Studies
University of Notre Dame

Rev. T. Michael McNulty, S.J.
MacLean Professor of Philosophy
St. Joseph's University

Helen Alvare
Professor of Law
George Mason University School of Law

Jeannine Hill Fletcher
Professor of Theology
Fordham University

John Sniegocki
Associate Professor of Christian Ethics
Xavier University

Suzanne C. Toton, Ed.D.
Associate Professor of Theology and Religious Studies
Villanova University

Tobias Winright
Maeder Endowed Chair of Health Care Ethics
Saint Louis University

Paul Lakeland
Director, Center for Catholic Studies
Fairfield University

Terrence W. Tilley
Professor of Catholic Theology
Fordham University

Vincent Miller
Gudorf Chair in Catholic Theology and Culture
University of Dayton

Kathryn Getek Soltis
Assistant Professor of Christian Ethics
Villanova University

Hosffman Ospino
Assistant Professor of Theology and Education
Boston College

Kelly S. Johnson
Associate Professor, Religious Studies
University of Dayton

Una M. Cadegan
Associate Professor, Department of History
University of Dayton

Charles T. Strauss
Assistant Professor of History
Mount St. Mary's University

Ron Pagnucco, Associate Professor
Department of Peace Studies
College of St. Benedict/St. John's University

Rev. Fred Kammer, S.J.
Director, Jesuit Social Research Institute
Loyola University New Orleans

Alex Mikulich
Jesuit Social Research Institute
Loyola University New Orleans

Leadership Team, Sisters of Mercy of the Americas
Sr. Pat McDermott, RSM President
Sr. Eileen Campbell, RSM
Sr. Anne Curtis, RSM
Sr. Deborah Troillett, RSM
Sr. Mary Pat Garvin, RSM

Rev. Raymond Finch, MM
Superior General, Maryknoll Fathers & Brothers

Thomas Allio, Jr.
Diocesan Social Action Director (retired)
Diocese of Cleveland

Rev. Sean Carroll, S.J.
Executive Director, Kino Border Initiative
Nogales, AZ

Charles C. Camosy
Associate Prof. of Theological and Social Ethics
Fordham University

Peter H. Beisheim
Director, Catholic Studies Department
Stonehill College, MA

Christopher G. Kerr
Executive Director, Ignatian Solidarity Network

Gerry Lee
Director, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns.

Karen Clifton
Executive Director, Catholic Mobilizing Network

Patrick Carolan
Executive Director, Franciscan Action Network

Kerry A. Robinson
Executive Director, National Leadership Roundtable on Church Management

John Gehring
Catholic Program Director, Faith in Public Life

Walter Grazer
Former Policy Advisor for International Religious Freedom and Human Rights, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

Christopher Hale
Senior Fellow, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good

Richard R. Gaillardetz
Joseph Professor of Catholic Theology
Boston College

Mark J. Allman
Chair of Religious and Theological Studies
Merrimack College

Dolores Christie
Executive Director (retired)
Catholic Theological Society of America

Christopher Pramuk
Associate Professor of Theology
Xavier University

Kevin Ahern
Assistant Professor of Religious Studies
Manhattan College

Daniel Finn
Professor of Economics and Theology
St. John's University (MN)

M. Shawn Copeland
Professor of Theology
Boston College

Rev. John A. Coleman, S.J.
Associate Pastor, St. Ignatius Church (San Francisco)

Rev. Joseph Nangle, OFM
Washington, DC

Eugene McCarraher
Associate Professor of Humanities
Villanova University

Sr. Paulette Skiba, BVM
Professor of Religious Studies
Clarke University

Thomas Ryan
Director, Loyola Institute for Ministry
Loyola University New Orleans

Billy Kangas
Writer, Patheos Catholic

Peter H. Beisheim
Director, Catholic Studies Department

Lisa Sowell Cahill
Monan Professor of Theology
Boston College

[Vinnie Rotondaro is NCR national correspondent. His email address is]

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