Catholic Bishops Condemn New Immigration Policy

By Patricia Rice Post-Dispatch Religion | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), November 18, 1994 | Go to article overview
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Catholic Bishops Condemn New Immigration Policy


Patricia Rice Post-Dispatch Religion, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


Catholic bishops from across the country asked Americans on Thursday to put back the welcome mat for immigrants.

The bishops approved a strongly worded statement criticizing Proposition 187, the new California law that will deny services to undocumented people.

"In seeking to cure social and economic ills, this proposition strikes at the most vulnerable among us - children, the sick and the needy - without addressing the larger social and political causes for the problems, especially at the federal level," said the statement issued by Archbishop William H. Keeler of Baltimore.

It was among the last measures resolved on the final day of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and United States Catholic Conference. The bishops also passed a directive on health care that will guide the more than 1,200 Catholic medical facilities nationwide.

The immigration resolution was slipped into the month-old agenda at the last minute. California bishops said they were stunned by last week's passage of Proposition 187, which will cut off most health care, social service and educational benefits to undocumented people.

The bishops said they worry about immigrants who pray in their churches or get help at their social relief agencies. The Catholic Church is the nation's largest, non-government provider of social services.

"This country's great characteristic is hospitality," Bishop Augustin A. Roman of Miami said in an interview. "It is not just a Catholic tradition of never turning away strangers who need to eat or to rest; it is the Judeo-Christian tradition. And our hospitality has benefited this country, brought new blood, people with talent and people who are willing to do jobs nobody wants."

Health Care Guidelines

After passage of the health care directive, its author, the Rev. Thomas Kopfensteiner, a professor at Kenrick Seminary in St. Louis, got slaps on the back.

"If there is a single theme it is that health care is a basic right, it is a moral issue," said Kopfensteiner.

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