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The immigration debate: What does the Catholic Church teach?




CHICAGO – As the immigration issue moves front and center at national, state and local levels, some of the staunchest advocates of so-called "sanctuary" areas are the Catholic Church faithful. 

Latinos – in America both legally and illegally – find solace in Catholic circles, and their spiritual leaders naturally minister to them and their needs.  It is not unusual for family members to reach out for help in escaping immigration law enforcement. 

But there is a growing discussion as to what the Catholic Church teaches about issues associated with immigration. Should the Church encourage law breaking? Or should it treat illegals as Biblical "strangers"?

Some pastors point to the New Testament's

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me…

or the Old Testament's 

When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.

 Should the local parish be a "safe place" for those who are breaking immigration law?  

Illinois State Rep. Chris Welch believes it should be. He has introduced legislation that would make every place of worship in Illinois a place where those who've ignored or broken immigration laws could hide from the federal government. It is now under consideration in the Illinois House.

What does the Catholic Church teach about illegal immigration? A discussion on Catholic radio raised points for consideration:

Those opposed to Rep. Welch's HB 426 are planning a rally at the State Capitol Saturday February 25 at noon. 


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  1. I have called the Seattle Archdiocese and asked the question of what the churches will do. If the answer is that they will harbor law breakers and illegals, then that is the end of my being a Catholic.

  2. This is just the latest political abomination by the forces that have hijacked the Roman Catholic Church.
    I say this as one who had 8 years of elementary Catholic education from the nuns of the Order of St. Benedict (who practically no longer exist) and 4 years of secondary education from the Jesuits – the Society of Jesus (who practically no longer exist) and whose uncle was a diocesan priest.
    I still consider myself a cultural Roman Catholic – but as an American – I have nothing but contempt for their current incarnation.
    As so many of us now say: “I didn’t leave the Catholic Church – the Catholic Church left me.”
    And they don’t get a farthing from me in the collection plate.