On November 8, 2016, Donald Trump was unexpectedly elected President of the United States. Since then, immigration has become a key issue for the Church, Crux reports.
Two weeks after the surprising election of Donald Trump, Bishop Mark Seitz convened the priests of his border diocese of El Paso, Texas.
“There was a great deal of fear because of all of the rhetoric,” he told Crux. “I was receiving calls from teachers asking what do I say to my schoolchildren that are coming to school crying and some of them are having panic attacks … There was a lot of fear and it began from the day of the election.”
“At that time we began to think about what we should be doing as a Church and what we could do,” Bishop Seitz recalled.
“To be honest with you, we were feeling kind of helpless … We couldn’t go to the people and say ‘don’t worry, there’s nothing to worry about.’ We really asked ourselves what can we say? What can we do?”
At that meeting his priests suggested the formation of a diocesan committee that could rapidly respond to decisions being made in Austin, the state’s capital, and in Washington, DC.
One week after Election Day, the bishops gathered in Baltimore for their annual assembly, where the nation’s 400 plus Catholic bishops were forced to wrestle with the election outcome.
“Just like the rest of the nation we were very surprised by the outcome of the election,” Bishop Seitz told Crux, “and that’s not trying to characterise it in one way or another, I just think the entire nation was very surprised at the outcome.
“In a certain sense we felt we weren’t really prepared for this and what would be the implications,” he said.
“We had thought a lot about what it would mean for the Church if Hillary Clinton was elected and we were very concerned about some of those potential implications because she took a stance against things like religious liberty and the life issues that were the most extreme we had heard,” Bishop Seitz recalled.
“We were pretty much preparing for that mentally … but when President Trump was elected, we had to re-gear and it presented to us a whole different list of threats … we had to retool ourselves.”