Sunday, June 24
By Father Tom Hurley
As many of you know, the Chicago priests were away in St. Charles IL this week for our Convocation, a gathering we do as a local group of priests every 3 or 4 years. Besides the fact it was a wonderful time to connect with friends in fraternity, I was also keenly aware of my gratitude for the leadership and voice of our archbishop, Blase Cupich. As we pray during the liturgy for “Francis our Pope and Blase our Bishop,” it’s not meant as a quick mention of their names, but more importantly what they represent. In our Tradition, the role of the pope and local bishop is a prayerful reminder that we’re in this together. United to each other in our mission to live and be challenged by the Gospel, the papacy reminds us that we’re connected globally and the mention of the local bishop helps us recall that we’re not just a congregational church off on our own, but rather we share in the work of the “Field Hospital,” as Pope Francis likes to say.
During our week together, as the news kept reporting the atrocities of separating children from their parents, the Cardinal shared his official statement in response to this policy. We are a church that stands firm in our resolve to protect human life and the dignity of every human person. I was moved by the words Cardinal Cupich spoke to us at Pheasant Run and, in turn, I felt it was necessary to likewise share his official statement with all of you.
Statement of Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago, on the Administration’s Family-Separation Policy
There is nothing remotely Christian, American, or morally defensible about a policy that takes children away from their parents and warehouses them in cages. This is being carried out in our name and the shame is on us all.
I welcome Pope Francis’ recent comment, “I am on the side of the bishops’ conference,” affirming his support of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ statement calling this practice “contrary to our Catholic values” and “immoral.” This policy must be rescinded immediately.
We are told that family separations are required by the law or court decisions. That is not true. The administration could, if it so desired, end these wanton acts of cruelty, today. It could right the wrongs committed by these cruel policies. Every day it doesn’t deepens the stain on America’s soul and reputation.
We are told this policy is supported by Scripture. That too is false. There is no biblical justification for building internment camps for children torn away from their parents.
Scripture tells us that God requires no one to follow unjust laws. It also admonishes us against bearing false witness. As St. Paul wrote, the fulfilment of God’s law is love.
We have heard the wails of toddlers crying “Mama!” and “Papa!”—children too young to understand what it means to be used as bargaining chips in a political game whose stakes are their very lives. Their cries pierce the conscience. They remind us that every one of them, along with their parents, are made in God’s image, and therefore have a dignity no amount of demonizing can obscure.
This is the dignity we Catholics defend when we work to protect the unborn. It is the dignity Jesus Christ called us to uphold by feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and, yes, welcoming the stranger. It is the dignity that inheres regardless of one’s nation of origin. It is not forfeited once one crosses another nation’s border, whether to seek refuge from domestic or gang violence or persecution, or to work for a better life for one’s family.
Pediatricians and psychologists universally agree that the trauma endured by these children will have lasting effects on their still-forming minds. It is a form of torture and child abuse, a violation of human rights. It is devoid of decency, bereft of common sense.
Every so often, history presents circumstances that test the soul of a nation. We are living in one of those moments. Whatever this nation of immigrants does for the least of these brothers and sisters of ours will define us for decades to come, in the world’s eyes, and in God’s.
This is the prayer taken from the Roman Missal (the book we use to celebrate the liturgy): “O Lord, to whom no one is a stranger and from whom whose help no one is ever distant, look with compassion on refugees and exiles, on segregated persons and lost children; restore them, we pray, and give us a kind heart for the needy and for strangers…through Christ Our Lord. Amen.”
Let’s pray for the healing of the nation and for all those families struggling to find a better life.
Father Tom Hurley