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Cardinal O'Malley urges 'language of compassion, justice, and love' on immigration

A woman participates in an immigration rally for Haitians in 2017 in New York City. (CNS photo/Eduardo Munoz, Reuters)

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BRAINTREE -- In a statement released Jan. 12 on his weekly blog, Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley relayed his hope that the New Year will bring a change in the language surrounding immigration reform, one that steps away from "epithets" and instead gravitates towards love.

The statement came amid outrage sparked by media reports that President Donald Trump made vulgar remarks about Haitians and African nations during a private meeting with lawmakers. That incident is not specifically mentioned in the statement, but Cardinal O'Malley, who has a long history of ministering to ethnic communities, seemingly condemned language surrounding immigration that is, at times, "harsh, not welcoming, and deeply suspicious."

"I believe the vast majority of Americans recognize the contributions immigrants have made to our country and our Church. We are a nation of immigrants, and historically an immigrant Church, and both have benefitted greatly from those welcomed here," he wrote.

"But, while I am optimistic about our country, there are institutions and individual voices with the capacity to distort the reputation of this country in the eyes of the world," the cardinal continued.

The cardinal notes that as a powerful nation, "we expect to be respected by others." Yet, he continues, "respect has a quality of mutuality," and power alone "does not guarantee respect from others."

Instead, he wrote, the United States must earn its respect by offering it to other nations.

The cardinal's statement also comes days after the Trump Administration announced it would end Temporary Protected Status for Salvadorans in the country, making immigrants from El Salvador the latest group to lose the status under the current administration.

Closing the statement with a message of hope, Cardinal O'Malley wrote that it is "my hope and prayer" that "we can change the tenor of the debate about immigration: that we provide protection for DACA Dreamers; that we come to recognize that Temporary Protective Status is really needed for Haitians, Salvadorans, Nicaraguans and Hondurans; that we will move from epithets when we speak of immigration reform and speak rather the language of compassion, justice and love."

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