Detained Migrants Deserve Spiritual Care

Migrants and refugees in prisons and detention centers have the same right to spiritual assistance as any other person, a U.S. bishop told a Vatican meeting. Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Migration, told the Vatican’s World Congress on the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Refugees that Catholic dioceses and other groups have had difficulty gaining access to detainees for pastoral purposes. The growing number of people in U.S. detention centers has made the issue of access even more urgent. Since the 2001 terrorist attacks, Bishop Wester said, “The U.S. government has turned to the detention of immigrants as another weapon in the ‘war on terrorism.’” The government “detains over 280,000 persons a year, more than triple the number of those detained just nine years ago.” Because of increased security concerns, combined with an “onerous law” on immigration passed in 1996, the government in effect presumes undocumented immigrants and asylum seekers “should be incarcerated rather than released” while awaiting hearings on their status, Bishop Wester said.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

“To love the poor means to combat all forms of poverty, spiritual and material."
Gerard O’ConnellNovember 19, 2017
Cardinal Blase J. Cupich of Chicago speaks Nov. 13 during the fall general assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)
Cardinal Bernardin’s consistent ethic of life could be helpful as the church grapples with issues like migration, health care and even taxes, some bishops say.
Michael J. O’LoughlinNovember 17, 2017
Giant machines dig for brown coal at the open-cast mining Garzweiler in front of a power plant near the city of Grevenbroich in western Germany in April 2014. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, File)
“What we need to do is just continue to live out the challenge of ‘Laudato Si’,’ which is to examine our relationship with the earth, with God and with each other to see how we can become better stewards of this gift of the earth.”
Kevin ClarkeNovember 17, 2017
Hipsters love the authentic, the craft and the obscure—which is exactly why Catholicism, in its practices and its aesthetic, is perfectly suited for them.
Zac DavisNovember 17, 2017