Bishop Edward Weisenburger Proposes ‘Canonical Penalties’ on Any Catholic Who Helps Enforce Trump’s Immigration Policy

The church has come out strongly against the policy.

As public outrage grows over President Donald Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy of separating children of undocumented immigrants from their parents at the U.S.-Mexican border, one bishop from the Catholic Church has issued a stern warning to members of his faith.

The Religious News Service reported that Tuscon, Arizona Bishop Edward Weisenburger said Christians who support or enable the policy should face religious consequences.

Speaking to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on Wednesday, Weisenburger said that canonical penalties should be imposed upon people who “who are involved in this.”

“Canonical penalties are there in place to heal,” he said, “and, therefore, for the salvation of these people’s souls, maybe it’s time for us to look at canonical penalties.”

A canonical penalty is a punishment made by the Church onto members who violate some statute of established Church law, which can include getting sentenced to purgatory or even excommunication.

There are two types of canonical penalties. Latae sententiae is an automatic punishment for a crime that is imposed without trial or orders from a judge – the very act of the crime results in punishment. A ferendae sententiae is a penalty ordered by a judge or superior.

Earlier this week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that immigrants seeking asylum from drug, gang, and domestic violence would no longer be able to seek safety in the United States. Sessions said the Obama administration created “powerful incentives” for people to “come here illegally and claim a fear of return.”

Sessions opined that asylum claims have been given too much leeway to include victims of “private violence,” rather than persecution from their government. “The prototypical refugee flees her home country because the government has persecuted her,” Mr. Sessions wrote in his ruling.

“An alien may suffer threats and violence in a foreign country for any number of reasons relating to her social, economic, family or other personal circumstances,” Sessions added. “Yet the asylum statute does not provide redress for all misfortune.”

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the USCCB and archbishop of Galveston-Houston slammed Sessions, who oversees the administration’s policy.

“At its core, asylum is an instrument to preserve the right to life,” DiNardo said in a statement. “The Attorney General’s recent decision elicits deep concern because it potentially strips asylum from many women who lack adequate protection.”

This decision negates decades of precedents that have provided protection to women fleeing domestic violence. We urge courts and policymakers to respect and enhance, not erode, the potential of our asylum system to preserve and protect the right to life.

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