By Marnie McAllister, Record Editor
Support for refugees and immigrants overflowed Monday night from the Muhammad Ali Center’s outdoor amphitheater to the surrounding streets, where between 5,000 and 7,500 people took part in Mayor Greg Fischer’s Rally for American Values.
Carrying placards and chanting “Love not hate makes America Great,” rally-goers joined their voices with religious leaders around the nation, including Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, who denounced President Donald J. Trump’s executive orders restricting refugee and immigrant entry to the United States.
An executive order issued by the president on Jan. 27 suspends the resettlement of refugees in the United States for 120 days and bans from entry to the U.S. citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries. The order blocks refugees from war-torn Syria indefinitely and reduces the number of refugees that will be permitted this year from 110,000 to 50,000.
Archbishop Kurtz said in a statement issued Jan. 28 that the Archdiocese of Louisville has resettled refugees for decades and that this ministry is “part of our identity, since as a Catholics, we are called by Jesus Christ to protect the vulnerable and recognize the human dignity of all people.”
“We pray for a pastoral heart as we strive to treat people in a humane way that respects our common good and the common desire that all have for full and safe lives,” said the archbishop, who was travelling in Vietnam at the time as part of a delegation of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
In the archbishop’s absence, Father Steven Henriksen — pastor of the Church of the Ascension and chair of Catholic Charities’ board — represented the Catholic Church at Monday’s rally. He was one of several religious leaders who spoke alongside Mayor Fischer and other civic leaders.
Father Henriksen told the crowd that Christ calls his followers to “welcome the stranger” and called care for migrants and refugees a matter of family values, noting that nearly two-thirds of refugees being resettled by Catholic Charities this fiscal year are joining family members already here.