By: Jo Siedlecka
A bishop in Texas has refused to allow federal officials access to church land in order to make preparations for the construction of President Trump's border wall.
In a statement, Bishop Daniel E Flores of the Diocese of Brownsville, Texas said he had "personally engaged in amicable discussions with federal officials about requests for right of entry and site assessment to two properties in Hidalgo County owned by the diocese."
"The requests are for the purpose of survey preparations for the eventual construction of a wall on the premises."
"While the bishop has the greatest respect for the responsibilities of the men and women involved in border security, in his judgment church property should not be used for the purposes of building a border wall. Such a structure would limit the freedom of the Church to exercise her mission in the Rio Grande Valley, and would in fact be a sign contrary to the Church's mission. Thus, in principle, the bishop doe not consent to use church property to construct a border wall.
"He understands, however, that the federal government has recourse to the courts to obtain survey rights. The Diocese of Brownsville received official word notifying us that papers have been filed in federal court of the Southern District of Texas in MacAllen seeking right of entry on the priority owned by the diocese. The filing in court was not unexpected."
Brownsville is one of the five border dioceses on the route of the migrant caravan currently walking from Honduras through Mexico. They are likely to begin arriving in a few weeks.
Catholic and Episcopalian groups along the border, running migrant shelters and support services are in close contact with their counterparts on the other side of the border in Mexico, and preparing to help the refugees when they arrive.
On Saturday, 3 November, faith communities on both sides of the US/Mexican border will join together at Anapra, New Mexico and Mexico for the annual border Mass.
In a statement, the Columbans said: "In the midst of increasingly vitriolic rhetoric targeting migrants, and moves to ramp up immigration and border enforcement measures, the border Mass stands as a symbol of hope and encounter."
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