In the midst of a very scary and uncertain time, Church leaders are boldly trying to set the record straight on important issues facing American citizens.
In a letter to his clergy, the Archbishop Allen Vigneron of Detroit, Mich., called for caution in the public debate concerning banning the immigration of Muslims into the United States based on their religion. At the Second Vatican Council, the Council Fathers taught that the Catholic Church treats with respect those who practice the religion of Islam.
Archbishop Vigneron explains that the Church does not take sides when it comes to candidates for political office but it does weigh in on the moral issues of the times, especially as our political discourse addresses the very real concerns about the security of our country, our families and our values. Religious rights are a cornerstone of these values, explained the archbishop.
“Restricting or sacrificing these religious rights and liberties out of fear – instead of defending them and protecting them in the name of mutual respect and justice – is a rationalization which fractures the very foundation of morality on which we stand,” he wrote.
Religious liberty makes it possible for all of us to freely practice our faith. These are good Catholic as well as American values.
We all want to stop terrorism; we all want to feel safe and to avoid any and all possibilities of danger to our beloved homeland and her people, but every word uttered by Archbishop Vigneron is true. We cannot begin to limit people’s freedom based on their religion any more than we can do so based on gender, age, or race. The idea to “register” Muslims, based solely on the fact that they are adherents to that faith, is offensive to our values, not only as Americans, but as Catholics.
We need to be wary and limit those who are known to associate with terrorists and extremist groups, but we cannot get into the business of tracking people based on faith. If we promote this insane idea, the day may indeed come when Catholics, other Christians, and Jews are numbered, and held in fear and suspicion, too.
Remember the words of the Gospel of Luke (6:31): “And as you would that men should do to you, do you also to them in like manner.”