CHICAGO (CBS) — Cardinal Blase Cupich is telling priests of the Roman Catholic archdiocese to not allow federal immigration agents onto church property without a warrant — but a prominent immigrant rights activist is not happy.

The letter says no warrant, no access and Cardinal Cupich calls President Trump’s immigration order “a dark moment in U.S. history.”

But the Cardinal also wrote in his letter to priests, dated Tuesday, that he will not declare Catholic churches sanctuaries, and restates Archdiocesan policy that forbids anyone other than assigned priests to live in a rectory or other church facility without written permission from him or his vicar general.

“We have not named our churches as ‘sanctuaries’ solely because it would be irresponsible to create false hope that we can protect people from law-enforcement actions, however unjust or inhumane we may view them to be,” Cupich wrote. “Moreover, immigration law does impose criminal penalties and fines for anyone who conceals, harbors or shields from detection, in any place, an alien who has come to, entered or remains in the United States in violation of the law.”

Activist and Anglican priest the Rev. Jose Landaverde is disappointed and says Cardinal Cupich is trying to have it both ways.

“By putting that in his letter he’s contradicting himself,” Landaverde said in an interview with WBBM.

Fellow activist and United Methodist Pastor Emma Lozano said she found the letter “disappointing.” She says sanctuary should be used “as a last resort,” but has hosted undocumented immigrants at Lincoln United Methodist Church, in Pilsen. Neither she nor her congregation will bend in the face of new enforcement efforts, she says.

“Jesus was an immigrant,” she says.  “Jesus was a refugee.”

Both said hundreds of other churches across the country have declared themselves to be sanctuaries. Millions of undocumented Catholics are looking to the Church for help, they say.


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