Two U.S. bishops — one of them a cardinal in Rome — had very different takes yesterday on Donald Trump’s victory in the presidential election, especially over the issue of immigration.
One described the president-elect as understanding the interests of the Church while the other highlighted fears among migrants and Muslims in his border diocese over Trump’s victory.
From what he had heard the Republican say on the campaign trail, Cardinal Raymond Burke, who is Grand Master of the Sovereign of the Order of Malta, said he believed the new president “understands what are the fundamental goods important for us [Catholics],” especially over life issues and religious freedom.
The bishop of El Paso, Texas, Mark Seitz, said he also rejoiced that “those at the first stages of their lives prior to their birth, who need protection on their migration from their mothers’ wombs, should be receiving more protection and support.”
But he said he was “very concerned about our brother and sister refugees and migrants who have escaped or are escaping unimaginable violence and suffering in their home countries to seek safety here.”
He said he was also “concerned about our brothers and sisters who are Muslim who may be singled out simply based upon their religious confession.”
Both groups, he said, were “understandably fearful,” and pledged to stand by them.
El Paso lies just across the border from Ciudad Juárez in Mexico, and historically forms part of the same city. Many families have members living in both places.
In February this year, Pope Francis celebrated Mass at the Juárez border, with Bishop Seitz and hundreds of members of his diocese attending on the other side in El Paso.
President-elect Donald Trump has promised within his first 100 days to begin the removal of more than two million “criminal illegal immigrants” and to suspend immigration from “terror-prone regions.” He has also pledged to build a wall along the southern border, and to impose mandatory two-year prison sentences for entering the U.S. following a deportation.
Cardinal Burke told the Italian daily Il Giornale that he did not believe Trump was “inspired by hatred” on the immigration question, which he said “requires awareness of who the immigrants are, the reasons that led them to emigrate and the capacity of the local community to welcome them.”
In his statement, on the other hand, Bishop Seitz said: “Children and young people who know nothing but life in this country as the sons and daughters of immigrants wonder if their parents will be present when they return from school.”
He added that “those fleeing direct death threats in their home countries or the murder of their family members have heard of the fate of hundreds who were forced back to their places of origin after running from murderous gangs and narco-traffickers.”
Seitz added his pledge to fearful migrants that he and other church leaders “will continue to stand by your side” and to ensure their voice is heard.