National News

Church Leaders Welcome, Offer Advice to New Prez

WASHINGTON (CNS) – Words of congratulations as well as caution emerged from political and religious leaders to President Donald J. Trump.

Pope Francis sent best wishes and prayers to incoming President Trump shortly after he took the oath of office.

“I offer you my cordial good wishes and the assurance of my prayers that almighty God will grant you wisdom and strength in the exercise of your high office,” the pope’s message said.

Saying that the human family faces “grave humanitarian crises” that demand “farsighted and united political responses,” the pope said he would pray that Trump’s decisions “will be guided by the rich spiritual and ethical values that have shaped the history of the American people and your nation’s commitment to the advancement of human dignity and freedom worldwide.”

More than 860 religious, civil rights and ethnic and immigrant rights groups urged Trump to protect 740,000 people who qualify for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, known as DACA.

In a letter to the new president, national, state and local organizations said that DACA had become one of the country’s “most successful immigration policy initiatives … fostering economic growth and strengthening national security.”

The letter asked Trump to continue DACA despite his promises to immediately end President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration.

Obama introduced DACA in 2012 as an initiative to provide work permits and relief from deportation to young adults and children who arrived in the U.S. before their 16th birthday. Applicants must undergo background checks, pay a fee and meet certain educational requirements to qualify under DACA.


The letter also cited bipartisan support for the Bar Removal of Individuals who Dream and Grow our Economy measure, or BRIDGE Act, which was introduced near the end of the last Congress in December by Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina. The bill would allow the young immigrants under DACA to stay in the country for three more years.

Whether lawmakers planned to reintroduce the bill in the new Congress is not known.

The presidents of organizations representing women religious and superiors of congregations of men religious offered to support the Trump’s presidency and urged him to join them in promoting the common good.

Sister Mary Pellegrino, president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and a member of the Congregation of St. Joseph, and Atonement Father Brian F. Terry, president of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men, reminded the incoming president of the gift and responsibility of leadership.

They expressed concern about the “fractures and divisions” that “continue to threaten the well-being and freedom of all Americans and those who have fled in fear to our shores and borders,” writing that America’s diversity has been the country’s strength.

“In order to be ‘one nation under God,’ we believe we are all called to live as true ambassadors of reconciliation, in all places and all times,” the leaders said.

“We believe we need a president who transcends party politics and personal agendas in order to heal deep divisions that threaten the stability of our nation. We strongly believe that we all need to be dedicated to respectful and dignified civil discourse with those whose positions different from our own.”