Activists launch hunger strike to urge the Catholic Church to serve as sanctuary for illegal immigrants

(The Washington Post) Three veteran activists are staging a hunger strike in front of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception this week, calling on the Roman Catholic Church to open its church doors to undocumented immigrants fearing deportation.

The protesters — a nun, a former Jesuit brother and a female priest not recognized by the church — said they wrote a letter to Cardinal Donald Wuerl making the request but have received no response.

Wuerl, the leader of the Washington Archdiocese’s 620,000 Catholics, said in March that the church’s values compel it to oppose the deportation of immigrants living illegally in the United States. But he has expressed caution about the idea of churches acting as sanctuaries for those seeking to avoid deportation.

“The Catholic Church strives to help all who seek pastoral care, spiritual guidance and material assistance,” Chieko Noguchi, a spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Washington, said Tuesday. “The parishes of the Archdiocese of Washington and also Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington are welcoming to all in need of assistance. We accompany those who seek help, whether material, legal, or pastoral. That is our calling as Christians, and that is what we do every day.” [More]


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