Father Tim Clark found this Sunday's Christian scripture particularly relevant to the turmoil over President Donald Trump’s orders on refugees and immigrants.
It was Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, where he blesses the meek and the merciful.
“And to me it was apropos. When you put the gospel next to what is happening today in terms of the immigrants and the other issues at the forefront, there’s this great dissonance,” said Clark, pastor at Our Lady of the Lake Roman Catholic church in northeast Seattle.
In that Bible passage from Matthew 5, Jesus says:
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
On Friday, Trump issued an executive order for temporary but immediate ban on all refugees and immigrants from seven majority-Muslim countries. People already on their way to the U.S. were detained at airports, including Sea-Tac International. Others were prevented from taking flights here — even refugees who had already gone through tough vetting.
“I find it harsh and unforgiving, this whole approach, especially to immigrants," Clark said Sunday. "And then when I saw the paper this morning, I was shocked by the chaos.”
This year a slight majority of Catholic voters supported Trump nationwide. Clark knows his own parishioners have diverse views. Around the time of the election, some complained that his sermons were too critical of Trump. Clark says he’s trying not to make it personal.
"I'm not dragging politics into the pulpit, I'm speaking from the perspective of the gospel in light of what's happening. Jesus did the same thing," he said.
In a statement Friday, the Church Council of Greater Seattle denounced what it called the “scapegoating of immigrants and refugees” under the new executive orders.
Out on the church steps on Sunday, parishioner Stacy Walker said these problems are complex, but right now she has new empathy for refugees.
“I think when it comes to the point where the Olympics have a team that is made up of refugees, how can we not be aware of the magnitude of this problem of displacement," she said.
She tried to put herself in the refugees' shoes.
"I would have to be under such duress, I would have to be in such fear for my safety and my family's safety, that's the only thing that could make me pick up everything I have and flee," she said.
"So that's what these people are doing – they are in need."