The hot button issue of illegal immigration has reached all the way to the Catholic Church, with bishops across the country, including in Connecticut, weighing in.
“They have left their countries, not because they want to, it’s because for some reason, they have been forced to,” said Bishop Juan Miguel Betancourt, auxiliary bishop of Hartford.
Bentancourt says he’s heard the concerns of Catholic parishioners, 40 percent of whom in the Hartford area he says are of Hispanic origin.
“If they have left everything in their countries, it’s not easy just to go back and start over in a place that’s not safe,” he explained.
Betancourt is one of five bishops in the Connecticut Catholic Conference who recently signed a letter urging the federal government to overhaul existing immigration policies.
“An examination of conscience is necessary to see all the things that have been done and the things that we have failed to do as a country,” Betancourt said.
He says their biggest concern is treatment of migrants at the border and the conditions in the countries they are fleeing from. However, obeying the law is also part of the Church’s teachings.
“Our government has the right and the duty to keep our borders safe.”
But, he says that human dignity needs to be at the forefront of those policy decisions.
“With the respect of the human person. That’s the thing. I think that’s the first thing that we need to look. If we focus on that, that will help us to find ways that can be fair and just,” Betancourt said.
While other Christian denominations have opened their doors to those seeking sanctuary of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Betancourt says there is no written policy, yet, in the Hartford Archdiocese.
We probably will be committed to do everything that is in our power with our resources to try to assist the people who are in need in a way that actually respects the law,” he said.