Catholics decry reported comments

WASHINGTON (CNS) –Some Catholics said it was more important to look at the sentiment, not the vulgarity of the words the president of the United States allegedly used to refer to immigrants from certain countries: Disparaging, hateful, racist.

Those are the words some Catholic organizations used to describe how they feel about profane comments attributed to U.S. President Donald Trump at a Jan. 11 meeting about immigration.

On Jan. 12, Sen. Richard J. Durbin, D-Illinois, said the president used profanity to refer to people from certain countries, and other “things which were hate-filled, vile and racist” during a meeting about immigration, and at least one Republican senator, South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham, confronted him about it.

In a statement following the reports, the National Black Catholic Congress said it condemned the remarks.

“As people of faith, concerned with the dignity of all of God’s people, we deplore such racist and hateful speech,” the group said.

Middle of discussion

While speaking to the press, Durbin said the comments, made while trying to hash out a deal on immigration, came after he was listing the countries with the highest numbers of people who benefit from Temporary Protected Status and include Haiti, El Salvador and some African nations, countries that, one by one, have seen the protection evaporate since Trump took office. Trump questioned why the U.S. would accept more immigrants from Haiti and “(expletive) countries.”

“Those countries the president disparaged are by no means Shangri-La’s but, that’s why people emigrate from them,” said Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski Jan. 12 via Twitter. “And as Emma Lazarus’ poem on the Statue of Liberty suggests, they become the ‘best and the brightest’ of the immigrants to this country.”

The Archdiocese of Miami, which he leads, is the spiritual home to one of the largest populations of Haitian Catholics in the country.

Archbishop Wenski also said via Twitter that while the president had on Jan. 9 suggested he would sign whatever Congress brought him on immigration reform, his remarks instead “laid bare the true motivations of those that want to close our nation to immigrants.”

‘Great concern’

A Jan. 12 statement issued by James Rogers, chief communications officer for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said the reported “disparaging” remarks “have aroused great concern.”

“As our brothers and sisters from these countries are primarily people of color, these alleged remarks are especially disturbing,” the statement said.

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