In a commentary in Denver’s Rocky Mountain News, Archbishop Charles Chaput decried the actions of those who, as he sees it, are using illegal immigrants as scapegoats for the slaying of a Denver police officer earlier this month.
The Archbishop, who presided at the funeral of Donnie Young, a Denver police officer gunned down last month while working security for a baptismal party, began by praising the bravery of those in uniform and the outpouring of support from the Denver community toward Young’s family.
He said however, that “the aftermath of the funeral” and “though what we do with our anger over his killing; whom we blame and why -- will prove just how deep our character as a community really goes.”
“Overnight,” the Archbishop wrote last week, “some public officials and media sources began using the Young murder to hammer away at U.S. immigration realities. They keyed especially on undocumented Hispanics. One media commentator claimed that if anything good were to come of Young’s tragic death, it would be highlighting the problem of illegal immigration.”
“In effect,” he said, “for some people, the murder quickly became a way of justifying their pent-up anger toward whom they blame for stealing jobs, abusing public services and fueling crime.”
Archbishop Chaput noted over 70% growth in Denver’s Hispanic population over the last decade and said, “Justice can’t be served by raging at groups of other people. That kind of anger only undermines our own dignity and pushes common sense to the margins.”
While he pointed out that American’s have reasonable rights to safe boarders and immigration policies, he said that, “The vast majority of undocumented Hispanic immigrants in the United States never commit a violent act, have no desire to undermine the common good and contribute vitally to American prosperity.”
“Thousands of farmers and businessmen rely on their services,” he wrote. “The life many of us enjoy depends, in part, on the labor of illegals. Taking advantage of their work, and then blaming them for being here, is a uniquely unworthy form of hypocrisy.
The Archbishop specifically chided Catholics, who “belong to a Church that supports the fundamental right of every person to migrate to seek a better life for his or her family, and who themselves were hated as outsiders for much of American history.”
For them, he said, “anti-immigrant anger is doubly wrong.”
He encouraged the Denver community to truly honor the memory of Young, an imperative, which, he said, cannot be reached by “redirecting our sympathy into name-calling, resentment or reactionary fear.”