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Utah Bishop Leads Catholic Group on Immigration

Utah Bishop Leads Catholic Group on Immigration



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Photo Courtesy Utah Catholic Diocese SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The leader of the Roman Catholic Church in Utah has been selected to lead the U.S. bishops' committee on immigration.

Bishop John Wester of Salt Lake City was elected chairman this week during a meeting of bishops in Baltimore. He later met with members of Congress and visited a Baptist church in Washington, D.C., with members of a group called Christians for Comprehensive Immigration Reform.

The group released a report: "A House Divided: Why Americans of Faith Are Concerned About Undocumented Immigrants." Laws that punish illegal immigrants don't help the country find a "humane solution to our broken immigration system," Wester said.

He said fair, comprehensive changes in immigration policy are in line with the teachings of the Catholic Church.

"Christ told us that when you welcome the stranger -- the person who is thirsty, is hungry, is naked, who needs help, who's in prison, who is sick -- you're welcoming me," Wester told the Deseret Morning News from Baltimore.

"Part of our faith is to reach out to people and accept them, particularly people who are fleeing persecution, including people fleeing economic persecution," he said.

Wester said borders can be secured without "draconian measures." He also concedes that Catholics are not unanimous when it comes to dealing with immigration.

"But my personal view is that most Catholics would dismiss the far extremists, the people who say we should shoot them," the bishop said.

As chairman of the Committee on Migration, Wester will work with eight other bishops, another 12 or 15 clergy and lay consultants and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Department of Migration and Refugee Services.

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Information from: Deseret Morning News

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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