The din inside Old St. Patrick’s stopped and the congregation quieted.
“I’m very much in pain,” the priest said. Alluding to a series of executive orders from President Donald J. Trump that are designed to crackdown on undocumented immigrants and ban refugees from entering the country, he continued, “I had to say to myself, where is Christ in this?”
He said that over his 47 years as a priest it has sometimes occurred to him that just because something is legal does not mean it is moral. He offered up the death penalty and abortion as examples.
Then Father Cusick asked, “What we have seen since Friday afternoon, is it right?”
The scene inside Old St. Pat’s was just one of many ways Catholics responded to President Trump’s first week. It began with some high-profile Catholics praising the president but ended with a slew of statements from bishops, Catholic universities and charities expressing shock at how quickly the administration moved in disrupting the lives of migrants and refugees.
A few days later, on Jan. 27, Vice President Mike Pence addressed the March for Life, a massive anti-abortion march held each January in Washington. His appearance, the first ever at the march for a vice president, drew praise from Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley, an advisor to Pope Francis.
“I was very edified by the stance of the Vice President, which was obviously one of a person who is very deeply pro-life,” the cardinal wrote on his blog. “It was not an angry rant but a call for compassion and for understanding, a genuine call for the defense of all human life.”
Though the cardinals praised the Trump administration on abortion, they expressed some concern with his other actions affecting immigration, with hints of a refugee ban already circulating.
On Friday, news broke that the Mr. Trump had signed the executive order that bans Syrian refugees from entering the United States indefinitely, enacts a 120-day block on all refugees seeking entry into the country and reduces by half the total number of refugees the United States plans to resettle in 2017.
That development led the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to publish its third statement of the week condemning a Trump executive order: The first condemned an executive order speeding up the proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border; the second condemned Mr. Trump’s plan to pull federal funds from sanctuary cities; and the one released last Friday condemned the refugee ban.
As the weekend progressed, several bishops added their voices to the mix.
On Sunday, Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago called the developments “a dark moment in U.S. history,” and Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego said the president’s “executive order is the introduction into law of campaign sloganeering rooted in xenophobia and religious prejudice.”
That afternoon, about 500 Catholics gathered for Mass in front of the White House, praying for those affected by the president’s executive orders.