Amid heightened attention to the plight of refugees in the U.S., Catholic Archbishop William Lori exposed yet another threat to the support available to refugees – abortion advocacy.
In a column for The Hill, Lori said the Catholic Church in America has been helping refugees through its Migration and Refugee Services (MRS) program for many years. But because the program receives government funding, it is under attack by abortion activists.
Lori, the Catholic archbishop of Baltimore, wrote:
Last year, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit against HHS, because it exempted the USCCB from having to facilitate abortion and contraceptive “services” to those who come under our care as unaccompanied children.
It seems that the ACLU believes that the “right” to an abortion trumps the needs of unaccompanied children.
Catholics, in following Jesus, believe that all life is precious. We protect the vulnerable in the womb and welcome the vulnerable migrant. We cannot choose one over the other. We say a resounding yes to both.
As is so often the case, if Catholic institutions are prevented from offering services to unaccompanied children by extreme abortion activists, there is little reason to believe that other groups will be able to continue the work as effectively. Furthermore, many Catholic institutions and networks offer more than just a service.
Last fall, the government asked a judge to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that the ACLU does not have standing to sue; but a judge allowed the lawsuit to proceed.
The ACLU argues that the government should not give money to the Catholic aid programs because the programs do not refer or provide abortions or birth control to young, unaccompanied minor refugees and immigrants, the New York Times reported. In the lawsuit, it argues that the agencies are legally required to provide access to contraception and abortion because they receive government funding.
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Many of the U.S. agencies that provide support to young refugees and immigrants are Catholic and “have a long history of providing high-quality care,” according to the NYT. Elimination of their federal funding could damage immigrants’ and refugees’ access to much-needed support when their arrive in the U.S.
Archbishop Lori said the ACLU is playing politics rather than focusing on caring for people in need.
“The world witnessed thousands of people gather at airports to show support for those who had been detained following President Donald Trump’s executive orders regarding immigrants and refugees,” he wrote. “These people cheered as lawyers, including ACLU lawyers, arrived to assist the detainees and some arriving immigrant children.
“And yet, the ACLU is also working to undermine the very men and women who dedicate their lives to serving migrants and refugees,” the archbishop continued.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which oversees the agencies, received almost $10 million in government funding to help unaccompanied minor immigrants and refugees in 2014, according to the report.
According to the pro-abortion website Mother Jones, the Catholic agencies help young immigrants and refugees who are referred to them from the Office of Refugee Resettlement. The agencies screen them for abuse, and provide them with legal help, education, physical and mental health care and more.