Parish identity cards for undocumented immigrants at the Redemptorist parish in Baltimore

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Father Bruce Lewandowski, C.Ss.R., holding up a parish ID card issued by the Redemptorist parish of Sacred Heart of Jesus/Sagrado Corazón de Jesús

(Baltimore, USA) The Archdiocese of Baltimore has taken a significant and practical step to help undocumented immigrants by issuing them parish identity cards. The effort is beginning with a pilot program at the Redemptorist parish of Sacred Heart of Jesus/Sagrado Corazón de Jesús in Baltimore. The parish is home to a large number of immigrants. The program was announced at Sacred Heart on October 10, with a gathering attended by Mayor Catherine Pugh and Archbishop William E. Lori.

The church’s pastor, Father Bruce Lewandowski, C.Ss.R., said providing a parish-issued ID “seems very small, but it is life-changing and world-changing for those who will hold it in their hands.” Each card bears the name and photo of the cardholder, the date of issue, and the name of and contact information for the parish, Father Lewandowski said. Such an ID is not government-issued, he continued, “But people will know it has the backing of the mayor of this wonderful city; it has the backing of the Baltimore Police Department; it has the backing of our chief shepherd here in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, Bishop Lori, and his auxiliary bishops.”

In the event cardholders should encounter the police, he said, “They’ll be able to say, ‘Here I am. I live here. I belong here. This is my city.’” In an October 10 story published in The Baltimore Sun, interim police commissioner Gary Tuggle was reported to have said his commanders would be briefed on the cards the following day and that officer training on the subject would begin next week. Civic leaders believe that holding parish IDs will make undocumented people more likely to report crimes and to feel it’s safe to contact law-enforcement personnel.

By providing parish IDs, Archbishop Lori was quoted as saying, the Church is “sending a clear message that people have a right to be safe. People have a right to live in a city where we see each other as neighbours and friends, rather than strangers and enemies.”

Mary C. Weaver

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