New York bishop gives ‘full support’ to church providing sanctuary to immigrant, child

August 17, 2017

[Episcopal Diocese of New York] A statement on sanctuary by the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New York, the Rt. Rev. Andrew ML Dietsche, and on the Aug. 17 widely-publicized announcement that Holyrood Parish in Manhattan had provided sanctuary to an undocumented immigrant.

August 18, 2017

The Episcopal Diocese of New York has numerous Latino/Latina congregations, and thousands of immigrants from Spanish-speaking countries who worship at our altars and live as our brothers and sisters in sacred communion. In April I wrote a letter to the diocese encouraging parishes to protect their members who may be in danger, and to provide legal and pastoral resources to assist undocumented people in the actions they may be facing.  I asked our parishes to explore the possibility of sanctuary, and the different forms that sanctuary might take. My colleague, Bishop Mary Glasspool, gathered resources for churches which may be found on our diocesan website.

It is our conviction that decisions made to offer sanctuary must be made at the local, parochial level, and we know that what “sanctuary” means will differ from community to community. I have made it clear that I will in every case respect the pastoral decisions and judgments made by the clergy and leaders of our parishes in their care of their people. Providing safe refuge inside the church is only one of those possibilities, but it has a long and noble history in the Christian church. In America, government agencies have generally respected the sanctity of the church threshold.

Yesterday, Holyrood Parish in Washington Heights held a press conference in which they announced that they were providing sanctuary refuge in the church to an undocumented immigrant and her American-born children. I am not unmindful of the risks that this means both for the parish and for the sanctuary family. Yet in the changing landscape regarding immigration and deportations in which we find ourselves, I believe this is a well-considered choice marked by integrity and faith. The clergy and people of Holyrood Parish have my full support, the support of this diocese, and this imperiled family has my prayers.

The Rt. Rev. Andrew ML Dietsche, Bishop of New York