Bishop of Tucson Calls for Canonical Penalties for Catholics Involved in Separating Families at Border

By Published on June 13, 2018

The bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson, Arizona, asked Wednesday for border bishops to consider “canonical penalties” against Catholics who participate in separating children from families of illegal immigrants.

Bishop Edward Weisenburger made the suggestion to impose canonical penalties, which could include excommunication or purgatory, on Catholics involved in the separation of families at the border ostensibly as a way to turn them to repentance “for the salvation of these people souls.” Weisenburger’s suggestion came in the wake of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ denunciation of the Trump administration’s enforcement of immigration policies, in which the head of the USCCB warned that such policies could cause “irreparable harm and trauma” to families. 

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

Canonical penalties are simply punishments prescribed by the Catholic Church’s penal code, and could also include the denial of Holy Communion to those who violate church law.

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 USCCB President Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, archbishop of the Galveston-Houston archdiocese, issued a statement earlier on Wednesday in which he decried the Justice Department policy of separating children from the families of illegal immigrants while prosecuting the adults in the family. He also denounced a Monday ruling from Attorney General Jeff Sessions, which said that domestic abuse, as a sole factor, does not qualify migrants to receive asylum.

“At its core, asylum is an instrument to preserve the right to life. The attorney general’s recent decision elicits deep concern because it potentially strips asylum from many women who lack adequate protection. These vulnerable women will now face return to the extreme dangers of domestic violence in their home country,” the statement reads.

“Our government has the discretion in our laws to ensure that young children are not separated from their parents and exposed to irreparable harm and trauma. Families are the foundational element of our society and they must be able to stay together … Separating babies from their mothers is not the answer and is immoral,” the statement added.

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  • They are not “separating families”. They are rescuing abused children from human trafficking by criminal abusers who may or may not be related to them. Any parent who exposes their child to the cartels and murderers and rapists and coyotes needs to be be stripped of all parental “rights” and prosecuted under our laws for child endangerment and abuse of a child. Lock them up and never allow them any news of the child they were planning to use as bait and a shield to protect themselves from punishment for their own crimes. Any children who arrive here, regardless of who they are with, need to be returned to their real homes and relatives in their own countries just as Elian Gonzales was.

  • Edison Frisbee

    Ireland chooses abortion…..crickets. A prominent Jesuit calls for funding Planned Parenthood….crickets. But let someone counter the liberal agenda – now it’s time to get religion.

  • Mara319

    Unlawful immigration is a sin against the Seventh and Tenth Commandments in that illegal aliens steal – or covet – rights, privileges and benefits that don’t belong to them.

    Bishops enabling illegal aliens to commit these sin and crimes should be subjected to Canonical penalties for endangering people’s souls.

    • michael

      If ur going old testament. There is something about not mistreating strangers because we were once strangers in a strange land. And u could make the,same case for Lott inviting those angels into his house . The people outside wanted to rape those angels.

      • Mara319

        We don’t mistreat strangers who are LEGAL immigrants. We appreciate that they respect our laws and do not demand like they own the place.

        I was once a LEGAL immigrant myself. It took me eight years from the time I filed my papers at the US embassy in my original country. I was vetted strenuously, paid the fees, made sure I didn’t have any police records, that I am healthy, that I was willing to assimilate into the US culture, that I was eager to learn to speak and write English, that I could support myself financially, not be a burden to society, and to be forever appreciative of the good graces that the citizens and other legal residents show me.

        Then I had to wait at the end of the legal immigration line – for almost a decade – before I was permitted to enter the country.

        Only after I got my green card did I enter the US. And I did not vote until I became a US citizen.

        It is so unfair that illegal aliens demand rights and privileges by breaking the law. It is unfair that illegal aliens expect to be given priority processing over those who obey our laws and wait in line. It is so unfair that lawbreakers are rewarded while law abiders are made to wait for decades.

        Illegal aliens mistreat us by breaking through the back door and acting like we owe them a living. They are sinning against the Seventh and Tenth Commandment and our bishops – and you, Michael – ENABLE them to do so, thus endangering their souls.

        Illegal caravans arrive, foreign flags flying and middle fingers flashing. They taunt us, they insult us, they mistreat us.

        Michael, how many illegal aliens have you taken in to your home? I really want to know.

        • michael

          Many of them were seeking refugee status . That is why they turned themselves in at the border.

          • Mara319

            No, they ‘re not. If they’re truly running away from violent gangs, they’ll seek refuge in the first country they reach – which Mexico, even Guatemala.

            There are millions of very poor people in Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, who are also running away from violence and crushing poverty. Why are we not taking them in as refugees? It’s unfair to these people that Latinos are given priority while thousands are stuck in the legal immigration bottleneck, waiting for decades.

            What your Latino “refugees” truly want are freebies from the U.S. of A. Admit it. Yet they don’t have the decency to be polite at the border. They fly their flags, mockingly point to their crotches, and flash their middle fingers at us. As you pointed out, it’s like Sodom and Gomorrah. It’s not hospitality they want from us – it’s something else, very sinister.

            And you’re an enabler in making them commit the sins against the Seventh and Tenth Commandments. So stop your virtue signaling, unless you’re willing to take them all in to your house. How many have you taken in?

  • James B

    Complete Double Standard.

    How many of these bishops use the strong language of “condemn” or “canonical penalty” when it comes to some of the outrageous doctrinal statements that come out of certain clergy’s mouths, or which are taught in certain Catholic schools and religious education programs?

    How many of these bishops use that scathing language over issues of intrinsic moral good or intrinsic moral evil occurring in their dioceses and with which certain Catholics are involved?

    How many of these bishops use this bold, clear, threatening language when certain priests and parishes flaunt and play around with the Sacred Liturgy?

    Complete Double Standard.

  • ArthurMcGowan

    Just for the record: Purgatory is not among the Church’s “canonical penalties.” I have tears running down my cheeks. (Yes, I understand it wasn’t the bishop who said that.)

    The longer the bishops keep committing the mortal sin of giving Communion to pro-abortion politicians, the more their pronouncements on other issues turn to fanatical gibberish.

  • 1257dale .

    I will have much more respect for this dude when I see that he has called for just as stiff, or even stiffer penalties against Catholic politicians who are pro-abortion.


  • Beth Van

    So parents who choose to illegally enter the U.S. and force their children to also break the law of a sovereign nation are considered good parents who, even though arrested and jailed, have a right to have their children incarcerated with them, even though those same children would be better cared for in a quite nice facility by the nation whose laws were broken? So now all prisoners have a right to have their children go to prison with them? Huh?

    • michael

      Think about how you would feel if you were ripped away from the only people u know.

      • Beth Van

        I would feel very bad. However, as adults we have to take into consideration broader issues and do the best, which can be the hardest, thing in a given situation. By the way, I was separated from my family when I was 2 years old. I remember it. I was placed somewhere that was decided by the courts as much better for me because my parents were not capable of being good parents. I struggled with it for a long time. However, as I matured and came to know more I realized it was, in fact, for the best.

  • CM puts my comments on hold

    So someone who works for law enforcement can be excommunicated, but not pro-abortion politicians??

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