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Border bishop denounces hateful words, militarization of border


  • A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement official arrests an Iranian immigrant in San Clemente, Calif., May 11. (CNS photo/Lucy Nicholson, Reuters)
  • A Mexican national's fingerprints are scanned after he is taken into custody by a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Fugitive Operations team in Santa Ana, Calif., May 11. (CNS photo/Lucy Nicholson, Reuters)
  • Bishop Mark J. Seitz of El Paso, Texas, touches the hands of people in Mexico through a border fence following Mass in Sunland Park, N.M., in this 2014 file photo. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)
  • Pope Francis prays overlooking the U.S.-Mexico border before celebrating Mass in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Feb. 17, 2016.
  • Bishop Mark J. Seitz of El Paso, Texas, is seen outside St. Ignatius Church in the Segundo Barrio of El Paso Feb. 15, 2016. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)

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WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Denouncing the "demonization of migrants," hateful rhetoric, the militarization of the border and a system that divides families, Bishop Mark J. Seitz of El Paso, Texas, called on Catholics to heed the church's teachings to welcome the migrant.

In a July 18 pastoralletter"Sorrow and Mourning Flee Away," onmigration and addressed tothe"PeopleofGodintheDioceseofElPaso," Bishop Seitz, who serves a border community near Mexico, said the country's security cannot be used as a "pretext to build walls and shut the door to migrants and refugees."

"God did not create a world lacking room for all at the banquet of life," he wrote.

He said that while some might question his reflections, "I am not substituting politics for the teaching of the church," but as a pastor, his "duty is to the Gospel of Jesus Christ," he wrote. And the Gospel in the Old Testament is clear, he said: "You shall treat the alien who resides with you no differently than the natives born among you."

Bishop Seitz also criticized a system that "permits some to detain human beings for profit," while eroding the country's "historic commitment to the refugee and asylum seeker."

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