Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York said claims by a former senior adviser to President Trump that Catholic bishops advocate for immigrants for economic benefit and to fill pews are “preposterous and rather insulting.”
Speaking to SiriusXM’s The Catholic Channel on Thursday, the cardinal dismissed the comments made to CBS News by Breitbart editor Stephen Bannon, saying “I don’t really care to go into what I think is a preposterous and rather insulting statement that the only reason we bishops care for immigrants is for the economic [incentive] because we want to fill our churches and get more money.”
“That’s insulting and that’s just so ridiculous that it doesn’t merit a comment,” he said.
Cardinal Dolan: “That’s insulting and that’s just so ridiculous that it doesn’t merit a comment.”
Earlier on Thursday, Mr. Bannon said on CBS News that he believes the Catholic Church has been “terrible” to Mr. Trump on the issue of immigration, accusing bishops of supporting immigrants out of “economic interest” and because they are “unable to really come to grips with the problems in the church.”
Cardinal Dolan emphasized that the church’s teaching to welcome immigrants comes straight from the Bible.
“The Bible is so clear, so clear, that to treat the immigrant with dignity and respect, to make sure that society is just in its treatment of the immigrant is [a] Biblical mandate,” he said on The Catholic Channel. “It’s clear in the Old Testament—my Jewish neighbors remind me of that all the time—and it’s clear from the lips of Jesus when he said, ‘Whatever you do to the least of my brothers you do to me. When I was a stranger—meaning an immigrant or a refugee—you welcomed me.’”
In another apparent response to those comments, James Rogers, chief communications officer for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, issued a statement clarifying the U.S. bishop’s position on advocacy and care for migrants and refugees.
“Our pro-immigration stance is based on fidelity to God’s word and honors the American dream.”
“Our pro-immigration stance is based on fidelity to God’s word and honors the American dream,” the statement said. “For anyone to suggest that it is out of sordid motives of statistics or financial gain is outrageous and insulting.”
The statement, which was not signed, described as “preposterous” a claim that “justice for immigrants isn’t central to Catholic teaching.”
Like Cardinal Dolan’s comments, the statement points to the bible as the basis for church teaching on immigration.
“It comes directly from Jesus Himself in Matthew 25, ‘For I was hungry and you gave me food...a stranger and you welcomed me,’” it reads. “Immigrants and refugees are precisely the strangers we must welcome.
“This isn’t Catholic partisanship,” it continues. “The Bible is clear: welcoming immigrants is indispensable to our faith.”
“The Bible is clear: welcoming immigrants is indispensable to our faith.”
Caring for and about U.S. Dreamers “is nothing more than trying to carry out that seemingly simple, but ultimately incredibly demanding, commandment.
“It is a commandment found throughout Sacred Scripture, reaching back to the Hebrew scriptures, including Leviticus, “when an alien resides with you in your land, do not mistreat such a one” (Lv. 19:33).
According to the U.S.C.C.B. statement, the witness of the U.S. Catholic bishops on issues “from pro-life to pro-marriage to pro-health care to pro-immigration reforms is rooted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ rather than the convenient political trends of the day.”
“We are called not to politics or partisanship, but to love our neighbor,” it continues. “Let’s reject the forces of division that insist we make a false choice between our safety and our humanity. It is both possible and morally necessary to secure the border in a manner which provides security and a humane immigration policy.”