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WASHINGTON (ChurchMilitant.com) - In a rare move, a statement from the U.S. Bishops' Conference is speaking positively of President Donald Trump's administration.
January 16 is National Religious Freedom Day in the United States. Bishop George V. Murry, S.J. of Youngstown, Ohio, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Committee for Religious Liberty, issued an official statement the day before National Religious Freedom Day saying the following:
On this Religious Freedom Day, we are grateful that the right of religious liberty is cherished in this country. I appreciate concrete actions the Administration has undertaken, such as recent steps to protect faith-based social service providers. May we Catholics in America resolve to build on our inheritance for the good of all.
Bishop Murry referenced a Nov. 1 USCCB statement thanking "the Administration" for announcing a proposed rule that would keep taxpayer funding for faith-based adoption agencies who refuse to place children with homosexual couples.
This gesture of gratitude to the Trump administration is unexpected, given the U.S. bishops' opposition to President Trump on other fronts — especially immigration policy.
In an official USCCB statement in July, USCCB president Cdl. Daniel DiNardo slammed an immigration enforcement crackdown, saying, "Enforcement actions like those anticipated this week by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency separate families, cause the unacceptable suffering of thousands of children and their parents and create widespread panic in our communities."
"I condemn such an approach," the USCCB's president continued, "which has created a climate of fear in our parishes and communities across the country."
In October, the USCCB filed an amicus curiae (friend-of-the-court) brief to the U.S. Supreme Court opposing the Trump administration's plans to get rid of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an Obama-era policy that defers deportation for some illegal immigrants who were brought into the United States as minors.
A joint statement from the USCCB in February 2018 called for a "National Call-In Day for Dreamers," encouraging Catholics nationwide to call lawmakers and encourage them to protect "DREAMers" — migrants who were brought into the United States illegally as children — from being deported.
Many individual bishops have also spoken out against the Trump administration on immigration.
During a USCCB meeting in June 2018, Bp. Edward Weisenburger of Tuscon, Arizona, opined that Church leaders can use Canon Law to punish those who enforce U.S. immigration law. This comment drew support from some prelates, such as Bp. John Stowe of Lexington, Kentucky.
In late February 2017, Cdl. Blase Cupich sent out a letter to priests of the archdiocese of Chicago lamenting President Trump's executive orders related to immigration policy. Cupich's letter gave instructions on how priests can make it more difficult for immigration officials to enter church grounds. He encouraged priests to ask to see the warrant, to deny permission to enter and to contact the archdiocese's Office of Legal Services.
In 2018, as part of the USCCB's "National Call-In Day for Dreamers," Cdl. Cupich staged an on-camera phone call with pro-abortion senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.). Cardinal Cupich did this just two weeks after another bishop in Illinois, Bp. Paprocki of Springfield, affirmed that Durbin is barred from taking Holy Communion in his diocese.