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Cardinal Dolan says church to expand immigrant services

Cardinal Timothy Dolan spoke with reporters about President Donald Trump's executive order imposing extreme vetting of migrants, refugees and travelers, including from some Muslim-majority countries. Dolan was the keynote speaker at a midtown Manhattan luncheon marking the 100th anniversary of the Archdiocese of New York's philanthropic arm, the Catholic Charities, on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017. (Credit: Newsday / Emily Ngo)

Celebrating the centennial of the philanthropic arm of the Archdiocese of New York, Cardinal Timothy Dolan stressed Sunday that Catholic Charities has long served immigrants and will expand services for those communities in its next 100 years.

“We are not going to turn our backs on the immigrant,” Dolan told reporters, though he did not directly address President Donald Trump’s executive order temporarily restricting the entry of refugees and travelers, including those from seven Muslim-majority countries. He spoke at a Manhattan luncheon celebrating Catholic Charities’ 100th anniversary.

“We are not newcomers when it comes to helping immigrants,” Dolan said after the event. “ . . . The Catholic Church has been doing it from the beginning, because we are an immigrant church. Don’t be surprised that our strong bias is always in favor of the immigrants.”

He said the church’s outreach to immigrants is performed not just “because we’re Catholics, but because we’re Americans.”

The cardinal, who was part of Trump’s inauguration ceremony earlier this month, added later that he had not spoken with the president about the executive action and what opponents say amounts to a religious test. Dolan said Trump’s action was “troubling.”

The archdiocese hosted business, political and religious leaders at a lunch to launch a campaign to raise $100 million in private funds toward philanthropic causes over the next five years.

The investment, when combined with other private fundraising, will leverage more than $4 billion for New Yorkers in need, archdiocese officials said.

Elected officials at the event said Trump’s travel ban defies the religious and cultural diversity celebrated by New York.

“This executive order is just a terrible thing,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said. “It is so un-American to single out people for a religious test. It is so un-American to be against immigrants.”

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo called the state “as diverse a place as exists on the globe and we have found a way to make it work” and finding common ground is “more important than ever.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke about the fear that he said is gripping immigrant families.

Referencing Dolan and Michael Miller, chief executive of the Jewish Community Relations Council, both in the room, the mayor said, “Clergy leaders are going to have a moment now where their voices will matter more than ever.”

Meanwhile in Chicago, Cardinal Blase J. Cupich issued a condemnation of Trump’s order that was more forceful than Dolan’s.

“Have we not repeated the disastrous decisions of those in the past who turned away other people fleeing violence, leaving certain ethnicities and religions marginalized and excluded?” he asked in a statement.


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