PHILADELPHIA (WTXF) - Archbishop Charles Chaput’s prayer service for immigrants and refugees was an important service for many Catholic faithful. The sermon was simultaneously translated into Spanish as the Archbishop spoke.
But Chaput did not go so far as to call for Catholic churches to give sanctuary to undocumented immigrants as many had hoped to hear.
Reverend Gregory Holston, Executive Director of the interfaith group POWER, expressed disappointment leaving the service on Sunday. Like many, Reverend Holston had hoped Chaput would open the path for Catholic churches to stand as sanctuaries for undocumented immigrants avoiding law enforcement.
"More to embrace the sanctuary movement, to embrace those Catholic churches that are taking people in and protecting them from the actions of our government [that] are unjust and wrong," Reverend Holston said.
At the podium, Chaput encouraged his fellow Catholics to show compassion and mercy, echoing the Catholic Church’s public stance.
"We are a country of immigrants, we are a church of immigrants,” he said.
Chaput called immigration a human rights issue, but reinforced respect for government rules.
"The concerns about a secure border and the concern about the enforcement of the laws of a country are significant,” he said. “They're important."
The message did not resonate for many, including Aurora Camacho DeSchmidt of the New Sanctuary Movement.
"We want to hear the archbishop say we're going to be able to open our churches and offer real protection to the people and stand against a law that is devastatingly bad,” she said.
Some in attendance welcomed Chaput’s message, like service goer Ed O’Donnell.
"The same standards that should apply to me as a Christian, we must ask immigrants to do that,” he said.
People leaving disappointed told Fox 29 they will continue to push for the church to come out strongly against anti-immigrant policy.