ST. FRANCIS — The Association of United States Catholic Priests (AUSCP) has written a letter to newly elected Speaker of the House of Representatives, Paul Ryan, urging him to do “all in your power to achieve comprehensive immigration reform.”

A new U.S. citizen takes a selfie after taking the Oath of Allegiance during a special naturalization ceremony Nov. 13 at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services District Office in New York City. (CNS photo/Mike Segar, Reuters)In the letter, sent Dec. 9, the priests “applaud (Ryan’s) 20-year history of working for more humane immigration legislation,” but wrote that they are “deeply disappointed that it now seems you have closed the door to advancing comprehensive immigration reform.

“As Speaker of the House it is in your power to bring a comprehensive reform bill which includes a path to citizenship to the floor where we believe it would receive a majority of the votes. We strongly encourage you to do so,” they wrote.
“The Association of United States Catholic Priests feels compelled by the Gospel of Jesus Christ and our Catholic tradition to join the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in urging you to do all in your power to make comprehensive immigration reform happen. We ask you to be authentic to your own history on this issue and to lay aside partisan politics,” the group wrote to Ryan.

Similar letters were sent to President Obama and congressional leaders, according to AUSCP secretary, Franciscan Sr. Jackie Doepker

The AUSCP was founded in 2011 by 27 priests from 15 dioceses and 11 states because they “saw a crucial need for a national forum for the nation’s priests,” according to its website:

Senior priest of the Milwaukee Archdiocese, Fr. David Cooper, is the group’s past chairman.

According to Fr. Cooper, the AUSCP board will meet in Chicago later this month and will discuss if and how they plan to follow up to their original letter.

Sr. Jackie told the Catholic Herald that as of Jan. 12, the organization has not received a response from Speaker Ryan’s office, “not even the return card for certified mail.” She added, “the only certified card returned to us thus far is from President Obama’s office. No message, just the signed card.”

Membership in AUSCP has climbed to more than 1,000, according to the website.