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Bishop Zubik: Emsworth Catholic institute to help illegal immigrant children as 'followers of Jesus'

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Saturday, July 19, 2014, 5:24 p.m.

A Catholic ministry in Emsworth is providing aid to Central American children because “followers of Jesus are called to protect these children,” Bishop David Zubik said on Saturday, in addressing questions of why the organization is involved.

Officials from the Holy Family Institute and Emsworth met last week to discuss concerns about the institute's decision to accept children who illegally entered the country at the nation's southwest border without their parents.

The head of the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh said the institute responds to humanitarian crises and is stepping in to help the children because “they are vulnerable and defenseless against any abuse or misfortune.”

Between 20 and 36 children 12 and younger will be temporarily housed at the institute until they can be placed with relatives or sponsors, Zubik said.

More than 52,000 undocumented children have tried to enter the United States from Mexico since October. Many have said they are fleeing violence in Central American countries.

The children are awaiting immigration hearings to determine whether they can stay. More than 380 juveniles were sent to Pennsylvania between Jan. 1 and June 30, with 96 percent of them discharged to relatives, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

“The Catholic Church responds to humanitarian crises here at home and all across the world because we are pro-life,” Zubik said. “Being pro-life requires we protect and care for vulnerable persons from conception to natural death.”

A public meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. July 29 in the Emsworth borough building, 171 Center Ave.

Alex Nixon is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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