This message from the Rt. Rev. Thomas E. Breidenthal, to the people of the Diocese of Southern Ohio, was released June 14, 2018.
My brothers and sisters in Christ,
I don’t speak out on social issues often. There are many voices, and my voice is unlikely to add much to the mix. But once in a while an event or a policy strikes me as demanding a response from all of us, because it raises a new red flag. The separation of children from their immigrant parents at our southern border raises such a flag for me.
I acknowledge the wide spectrum of opinion in America regarding unchecked entry from Latin America. But the forced separation of families as a deterrent to border-crossing is essentially immoral. For Christians and most people of religious faith, the sanctity of the family is a bedrock. Why? Because it is in the faithfulness of spouses to one another and to the children in their care that the fundamental virtues of life in community are developed and practiced. Families in all their various configurations — and there are many— are the building-blocks of society and need to be supported and protected in every way.
There is no question that the forced separation of families at our borders can be a powerful disincentive to entry. But this strategy damages our own commitment as a nation to the value of family life. Worse yet, it takes advantage of a value that transcends national interest. The bond that unites parent to child is universal. To honor that bond is to rebuild the unity of the human race from the ground up.
Some in our government have argued that immigrants entering our country without prior permission are criminals, and that criminals are routinely separated from their children. I do not intend to take up the legal niceties here, except to say that the forced separation of families is an unnecessary and unnatural response to barred entry. Families entering as a unit should be treated as such. This is a basic human right, undergirded by Christian faith.
I intend to forward this letter to our president and urge you to join me in expressing dismay about the present policy of separation of children from their parents as a form of border control.
The Rt. Rev. Thomas E. Breidenthal serves as Bishop of Southern Ohio. Connect with him at firstname.lastname@example.org.