La Lomita Chapel is said to be a place of peace and tranquility. However, outside the church, the battle over the border wall is heating up. The church is receiving some help from the Georgetown Law Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection. They have joined the Catholic Diocese of Brownsville after Bishop Daniel Flores denied a request by the federal government to survey the property for a border wall.
Mary McCord with Georgetown Law ICAP says, “That consent for him as a religious person, as the person responsible for the diocese violates his religious belief.”
On Monday the Georgetown organization filed a 14-page supplemental brief in federal court in McAllen. It opposes the government’s request for access to the La Lomita property. Arguing the wall is inconsistent with the church’s values and would substantially burden worshipers in their right to exercise their religion at the site.
Bishop Daniel Flores issuing this statement:
“I also believe that if I were to consent to any actions that would culminate in the construction of the wall, I would be facilitating an activity that I view to be contrary to my religious and moral obligations as the head of the diocese.”
The unopposed motion must still be accepted by the court and the federal government will have until January 10th to file a response. A hearing was schedule on this issue for January 9th, but that will likely be delayed. The court can request additional testimony or can issue a ruling.
“This is a chance for the court to see that if the government doesn’t make some accommodation, the church will be actively litigating this and challenging any attempts to build that wall.” Says McCord.
In their petition the church is urging the government to discontinue their efforts to exercise Eminent Domain on the property. To begin identifying other methods of securing the border which do not undermine Catholic values.