The bishops and the attorney general spar over St Paul

On June 13, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), released a statement condemning the separation of illegal immigrants from their children at detention centres along the United States’ southern border. “Families are the foundational element of our society and they must be able to stay together,” DiNardo wrote. “While protecting our borders is important, we can and must do better as a government, and as a society, to find other ways to ensure that safety. Separating babies from their mothers is not the answer and is immoral.”

Last week US attorney general Jeff Sessions defended the policy on biblical grounds. He cited Romans 13: “The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted.”

Cardinal Timothy Dolan (pictured) of New York gave an eloquent retort on CNN. “I don’t think we should obey a law that goes against what God intends,” he told presenter Chris Cuomo. “That you would take a baby, a child, from his or her mom – I mean, that’s just unjust. That’s unbiblical. That’s un-American. There would be no Bible passage that would justify that.”

America magazine’s Fr Jeremy Zipple tweeted out Dolan’s interview with the caption: “US Catholic bishops seem to be gearing up for a full-on fight on this issue during an election year.”

The President signed an executive order on June 20 ensuring children will not be separated from their parents, while maintaining the administration’s zero-tolerance policy for unlawful border crossings. It’s unlikely to lead to a truce between the USCCB and the White House. America’s bishops have been critical of the Trump administration’s immigration policies since the 2016 election began.

​How to continue reading…

This article appears in the Catholic Herald magazine - to read it in full subscribe to our digital edition from just 30p a week

The Catholic Herald is your essential weekly guide to the Catholic world; latest news, incisive opinion, expert analysis and spiritual reflection