The Church in England and Wales has condemned US President Donald Trump’s controversial immigration policy, warning that his exclusion of refugees based on their country of origin “violates justice”.
The lead bishop for migrants, Bishop Paul McAleenan, an auxiliary of Westminster Diocese, called on Catholics to oppose Trump’s ban.
He told The Tablet: “What has President Trump’s travel ban achieved? Initially amazement and confusion, now as it is enforced extreme hardship precisely for those to whom we should be offering hope and a chance of a new life. Opposition to this decision goes beyond any political agenda, it is being rejected by those who clearly see that with this ban justice is being violated and hardship wilfully imposed.”
The Executive Order, signed on 27 January, imposes a travel ban on nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries, including Iraq and Syria. It also suspends the refugee admission programme for 120 days and prioritises refugee claims of religious-based persecution, provided it is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality. It halts the admission of Syrian refugees and restricts entry to no more than 50,000 refugees in the fiscal year 2017.
Bishop McAleenan continued: “Those who have the welfare of all humanity, especially refugees, at heart, must continue to let President Trump know that his protectionist policies are not the way forward. These policies do not correspond with the rest of the world’s attempt to alleviate the hardship of those who are long familiar with violence, fear and impoverishment.”
In a statement the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales said it fully supported the US Bishops’ reaction to the executive order, highlighting in particular its call to assist all those fleeing persecution (See page 28). Quoting the US bishops, they said: “We need to protect all our brothers and sisters of all faiths, including Muslims, who have lost family, home, and country. They are children of God and are entitled to be treated with human dignity.”
Sarah Teather, Director of the Jesuit Refugee Service UK (JRS UK) and a former Liberal Democrat Minister in the 2010 Coalition Government, attended a protest against the ban on Monday night outside Downing Street with a large group of Jesuits, Religious and JRS volunteers [pictured].
"We can't pretend that what is happening in the US has no relevance for us. It threatens to destabilise refugee protection around the world at a time when it is needed more than ever. These are grave times,” she said. "As Christians, we wanted to be present to stand in solidarity with our Muslim brothers and sisters affected by this refugee ban, and to make the point that to reject refugees is contrary to the gospel."
Last week the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, used his speech for Holocaust Memorial Day to urge people to resist a culture of “post-truth” and “alternative facts” that he said colluded with evil.
PICTURE: Thousands of demonstrators gather outside Downing Street to protest against Donald Trump's controversial executive order to ban people from seven Muslim-majority countries entering the US on 30 January.