Without naming President Trump, Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley Friday warned against distorting the reputation of the United States internationally in a strong statement that called for respect in the ongoing immigration debate.
Although optimistic about the US, “there are institutions and individual voices with the capacity to distort the reputation of this country in the eyes of the world,” O’Malley said in a statement released late Friday afternoon.
“As a nation, a sovereign state, we expect to be respected by others,” the Roman Catholic archbishop of Boston wrote. “That respect must be reciprocated by us towards others — individuals, countries and cultures.”
The statement came a day after Trump, during a discussion about immigrants from African countries, El Salvador, and Haiti, reportedly said “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?”
O’Malley, who has a long history of ministering to immigrants, said he has recently celebrated liturgies with local Haitian and Cape Verdean communities.
“In both communities, there is a strong determination to build a future for their families, especially for their children,” O’Malley said. “In each community, they are proud of the countries from which they have come, and they are deeply grateful for the opportunity to be citizens of this nation.”
O’Malley, a top American adviser to Pope Francis, said he hopes the tenor of the immigration debate changes in the United States. He called for protection for young immigrants who have been shielded from deportation by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program. Earlier this week, a federal judge temporarily blocked the Trump administration’s decision to end DACA.
O’Malley also said Temporary Protective Status “is really needed for Haitians, Salvadorans, Nicaraguans and Hondurans.” The program authorizes employment and establishes protection from deportation for hundreds of thousands of immigrants.
O’Malley has made immigration advocacy a staple of his tenure as leader of the Boston Archdiocese. Last fall, he urged Trump to extend Temporary Protected Status for four countries enrolled in that program.
In February, following two executive orders from Trump that aimed to clamp down on refugee resettlement and immigration, O’Malley underscored the church’s support for immigrants and refugees. That month, he convened a meeting with Muslim and political leaders aimed at coalescing opposition to a Trump immigration order.
At that time, the Muslim community was reeling from the announcement of executive orders that temporarily banned refugees and immigrants from seven majority-Muslim countries. The meeting, which came on the eve of a federal court hearing on Trump’s ban, included Governor Charlie Baker and Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh.
Earlier in 2017, he had issued a call for “mercy for those fleeing violence and persecution.”