Tucson Bishop Gains National Media Attention For Comments on Border Families

A local Bishop attracted national media attention earlier this month for his comments regarding separating parents and children at the border.

Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson Bishop Edward J. Weisenburger made statements suggesting “canonical penalties” for Catholics involved in breaking up families at the Mexican-U.S. Border.

At the spring gathering of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Weisenburger made comments that Catholics who pursue the “zero tolerance” policy for border enforcement should face punishments within church, such as denying Communion.

The policy has drawn ire and outrage for advocates and human rights activists. The policy, which was announced earlier this year by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, would mean young children may be separated from their parents who try and cross the border illegally.

Heartbreaking footage has shown terrified children crying on the border as they are left to fend for themselves. Many bishops denounced this policy during the meeting in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Weisenburger asked for recommendations for bishops who live and work near the border.

“Even though what I am saying may be risky or dangerous, I think it’s important to point out that canonical penalties are there in place to heal — first and foremost 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.”

Catholic church laws and Canonical penalties can include denial of sacraments and even excommunication. Weisenburger and other Arizona bishops issued a joint statement June 4 explaining how necessary it is to keep children and families together to protect them from violence through asylum.

Please visit the official website of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops for more information.

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