January 31, 2017

UPDATED: Bishop Rozanski releases letter in response to refugee ban

Staff report


(IObserve file photo/Rebecca Drake)

SPRINGFIELD – Springfield Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski has today issued a letter in response to President Donald Trump’s Jan. 27 executive order banning the admission of refugees from targeted countries and suspending other immigrant-related U.S. programs. 

Bishop Rozanski also has signed two additional statements issued in response to the refugee ban, one from United States Conference of Catholic Bishops chairmen (printed in its entirety below); and another released by the Massachusetts Council of Churches (

The full text of the bishop’s Jan. 31 letter follows:

“My dear friends in Christ,

“I write to you to express my concerns and reservations over the January 27 Presidential Executive Order that has caused the suspension of the refugee admissions program as well as many of our country’s visa and immigration admissions programs.

“While I can certainly appreciate and recognize the need for our government to maintain policies which safeguard the nation and its citizens, this need not come at the expense of innocent people, many who are families with young children trying to escape unspeakable violence and hardships. The welcome of immigrants is an integral part of our history as a country and is a core value of our own Catholic teaching. It has made us a beacon of hope whose light has shone across our world. We cannot allow ourselves to be frightened unnecessarily into conceding the principles of either our nation or our faith. 

“As Christians we must speak out against broad stroke measures that are an affront to the dignity of all human beings. It is part of the very fabric of our pro-life teaching that in each and every person we see the true and living presence of God.  

“I invite you to join me in prayerfully and respectfully asking President Trump to rescind his Jan. 27 Order and engage in a meaningful dialogue with relevant agencies and organizations to bring about a more humane and compassionate approach to immigration consistent with the values of our great nation.

“For our part, the Diocese of Springfield and our Catholic Charities Agency will continue in our many efforts, including plans to welcome the refugees who have been invited to settle here. I feel when you see refugees and immigrants face to face, you will not see a threat, rather encounter good people earnestly seeking to find a new home in which they can find welcome, peace, and the promise of safety.  

Wishing you all God’s blessings,  
(Most Rev.) Mitchell T. Rozanski
Bishop of Springfield, Massachusetts”

USCCB chairmen support Muslims

Bishop Rozanski, who is chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, along with Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the USCCB Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, and Bishop Oscar Cantú, bishop of Las Cruces and Chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace, jointly issued the following statement in response to the president’s executive action:

“We recognize that Friday evening’s Executive Order has generated fear and untold anxiety among refugees, immigrants, and others throughout the faith community in the United States. In response to the Order, we join with other faith leaders to stand in solidarity again with those affected by this order, especially our Muslim sisters and brothers. 

“We also express our firm resolution that the Order’s stated preference for ‘religious minorities’ should be applied to protect not only Christians where they are a minority, but all religious minorities who suffer persecution, which includes Yazidis, Shia Muslims in majority Sunni areas, and vice versa.  

“While we also recognize that the United States government has a duty to protect the security of its people, we must nevertheless employ means that respect both religious liberty for all, and the urgency of protecting the lives of those who desperately flee violence and persecution. It is our conviction as followers of the Lord Jesus that welcoming the stranger and protecting the vulnerable lie at the core of the Christian life. 

“And so, to our Muslim brothers and sisters and all people of faith, we stand with you and welcome you.”