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'Angels Unawares' statue arrives in New Orleans with pro-immigration message

“We have been criticized for our position on this issue, but our position on this issue is rooted in scripture, it’s rooted in justice and it’s rooted in charity."

NEW ORLEANS — The Archdiocese of New Orleans unveiled a statue Friday that may be controversial to some.  It’s meant to raise awareness of the Catholic faith’s teachings on immigration. 

“Angels Unawares” is now on display in front of Notre Dame Seminary.  A replica of an original commissioned by Pope Francis, the bronze statue is meant to convey the Catholic message that migrants, refugees and immigrants bring value to communities. 

 “The United States is filled with great history because of immigration and because of people who have settled here as refugees and it’s not just a story of the past it’s a story of today,” Archbishop Gregory Aymond said. 

Today’s political climate may make some people view the statue in a different light.  Archbishop Aymond acknowledges that Catholicism’s compassion-driven policy on immigration can be unpopular. 

“We have been criticized for our position on this issue, but our position on this issue is rooted in scripture, it’s rooted in justice and it’s rooted in charity,” the Archbishop said.

From the war in Vietnam to the more recent war in Syria, Catholic Charities has a long history of helping refugees transition to the U.S.  The Archbishop hopes that will increase. 

When President Trump was in office the cap on refugee resettlements was lowered each year, hitting a record low of 15,000 by the time he left office.  

President Biden promised to reverse the Trump administration’s restrictions on the refugee resettlement program.  He hasn’t moved on that promise yet.  Meanwhile, critics of the President said the situation at the southern border is reaching crisis levels.

“You can see all the young children, all under the age of six,” said Senator John Kennedy in a video he posted on Twitter last month. 

With alarming numbers of migrant children trying to cross the border, Louisiana Senator John Kennedy and 18 other Republicans visited Texas last month.  

Appearing on Fox News this week, he said Biden’s approach to illegal immigrants is inviting trouble. 

“Many of these folks will go on welfare particularly if they can make it to a sanctuary city or a blue state,” Sen. Kennedy said. 

So far, the statue “Angels Unawares” has traveled to Boston, Brooklyn, Atlanta, and Miami.  It’ll remain in New Orleans for six weeks.  Most can agree the statue contains some fine details, but when it comes to its purpose, it may highlight the division between faith and politics.

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