Chicago's Cardinal Cupich pledges support for migrants during Telemundo special

Cardinal Blase J. Cupich of Chicago is pictured after a prayer service at which he took possession of his titular church of St. Bartholomew on Tiber Island in Rome Nov. 20. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) Cardinal Blase J. Cupich of Chicago is pictured after a prayer service at which he took possession of his titular church of St. Bartholomew on Tiber Island in Rome Nov. 20. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Cardinal Blase Cupich used a nationally televised forum to pledge solidarity with immigrants living in the United States.

“The principle that every human being, documented or undocumented, is made in the image of God and deserving of dignity and respect is at the core of our faith,” the Chicago archbishop said in Spanish during a town hall-style event broadcast on Telemundo on March 19.

“Because of that principle,” he continued, “I am here today to assure you that we stand with those made fearful by the hatred expressed and threats made during the past year toward immigrants and refugees.”

Filmed at Chicago’s Immaculate Conception Church, the event was the Spanish-language broadcaster’s sixth special on immigration issues in the United States held since Donald J. Trump won November’s presidential election. A translation of the cardinal’s remarks was made available by the Archdiocese of Chicago.

“I am here today to assure you that we stand with those made fearful by the hatred expressed and threats made toward immigrants and refugees.”

During the event, Cardinal Cupich recalled the difficulty previous generations of immigrants faced in coming to Chicago and pointed to a popular American saint as inspiration.

“We are in a city that has welcomed and benefited from the work of immigrants from every corner of the globe,” he said. “Saint Francis Xavier Cabrini, the first American citizen saint, left her home in Italy to serve the Italian immigrants who found a less than warm welcome when they arrived here. She worked and died in Chicago, dedicated to the welfare of these newcomers to America.”

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“Let us take courage and follow her example,” he said.

The cardinal has frequently been critical of the Trump administration’s stance toward undocumented immigrants and refugees. In January, he said the White House’sproposed ban on refugees was “a dark moment in U.S. history.” Federal courts eventually struck down the executive order.

More recently, the cardinal told priests in the archdiocesenot to allow immigration officers on church property without a warrant, though he stopped short of designating Catholic churches sanctuaries, saying that such promises would offer “false hope.”

Immigrants talked about their experiences living in the United States during the Telemundo event, and the cardinal talked about his own family’s history, saying his forebears settled in the United States from Croatia “with little money, speaking no English, knowing only that there was promise of work and a better future here.”

“For them, the church was a place where they felt at home in a strange land,” he said.

He went on to quote Pope Francis and he renewed a pledge for the church to support new migrants.

The event was evocative of a town hall-style event Pope Francis held with ABC news broadcast weeks before his 2015 visit to the United States, in which he offered support for immigrants living in the United States.

Cardinal Cupich offered a similar message during the Telemundo event.

“Today, we pledge to carry on the church’s commitment to the dignity of our neighbors. As the church was there for my grandparents in the 1900’s, the church is here for you,” he said. “We will speak out against prejudice and discrimination, provide you the services and comfort we can offer and work for justice until it is achieved.”

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