SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Springfield Catholic Bishop Mitchell Rozanski is expressing his opposition to President Donald Trump’s executive order temporarily banning travelers and halting the settlement of refugees from seven Middle Eastern and African countries. In a letter sent to parishioners Monday, Rozanski wrote that he appreciates the importance of national security, but says that preventing refugees- many of whom are families with young children- from settling in the United States goes against both American and Catholic values.
“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,” Rozanski wrote.
“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.”
The letter goes on to encourage local Catholics to “prayerfully and respectfully” ask the president to rescind the order.
Speaking to 22News reporter Matt Caron on Wednesday, Rozanski said that he felt like he needed to be a voice for the voiceless.
“I would certainly get together with the priests of the diocese and the pastors to speak with them about it. It is, as I said, part of our tradition so it could be left on the table,” Rozanski said.
While President Trump said that the executive order will allow “extreme vetting” of people from tumultuous parts of the world, Rozanski says the current vetting process is already thorough.
This is not the first time that the Diocese has become involved in the refugee issue. The local chapter of Catholic Charities has been committed to settling 51 Syrian and Iraqi refugees in Northampton. Because of Trump’s executive order, however, the earliest that refugees could be settled in the area is June.
The executive order affects citizens of the following countries who wish to enter the United States: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.
There are more than 60 million refugees across the globe fleeing war, oppression, and religious persecution.