Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
In the wake of President Donald Trump’s recent executive orders on immigration and refugees, there has been both alarm and alarmism. I urge calm and reflection. Rather than rely on reactionary and misleading reports regarding the intent and nature of these executive orders, we must take the time to learn what they actually say and do. Where criticism is warranted, we must be clear about the shortcomings and constructive in our replies.
Governments have a duty to protect the lives and welfare of their citizens. This is an aspect of fundamental justice, and of the common good. This duty includes, for example, properly regulating the passage of those who would enter a country for any reason, and enforcing laws impartially – and, yes, even with a sense of charity, and preference for the poorest and weakest.
When laws or orders are inadequate or unjust, we as citizens have a duty to bring about change in the law through legitimate means. Criticism concerning the abruptness and confusion of the implementation of these new executive orders, regarding the possibility of separating family members unduly by an unfeelingly harsh enforcement, and fears regarding unnecessary harm that might be caused to legitimately needy and unthreatening refugees seem to be warranted.
The Catholic Church, and I as a bishop, strive always to speak and teach for the good – for justice for all; for the common good, including the rule of law and the natural rights of the family; and for the greatest possible concern for the poorest and least, who have the most need of defense and assistance. I, therefore, join my voice with those of my brother bishops who, while recognizing in principle the legitimate efforts of President Trump to deal with national security, provide adequate scrutiny for immigrants and visitors, and ensure the even-handed rule of law for all, repeat again our unchanging plea and demand that he, and all governments, do so wholly in keeping with the God-given sanctity, dignity and compassion that every human person deserves.
Your brother in Christ,
Most Reverend R. Walker Nickless
Bishop of Sioux City