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Installation of Carlson

Archbishop Robert J. Carlson (left) watches a procession leading into the Cathedral Basilica in St. Louis for his installation on June 10, 2009. His predecessor, Raymond Burke, is to the right. Photo by Stephanie S. Cordle of the Post-Dispatch

ST. LOUIS • The Archbishop of St. Louis joined a growing number of faith leaders Tuesday in condemning the separation of migrant children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border. 

"Along with my brother bishops, I understand the need to have secure borders and to ensure that our country remains safe," Archbishop of St. Louis Robert Carlson wrote in a statement Tuesday. "But, to forcibly separate children from their parents is inhumane, morally unacceptable, and ineffective to the goal of deterrence and safety."

Carlson's opposition comes as many Roman Catholic leaders, including Pope Francis, are speaking out against the separations. The Trump administration announced a zero tolerance policy last month for those crossing the border illegally.

Pope Francis told Reuters Sunday that he agrees with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops which called separation of children from their parents "contrary to our Catholic values."

"It's not easy, but populism is not the solution," Pope Francis said. 

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops during a June 13 meeting called the separations a "right-to-life issue" and condemned the practice, as have mainline Protestant churches, the Mormon Church and evangelical leaders.

In Carlson's statement, he emphasized the need to address the root causes of migration including violence, gangs, poverty and lack of education. 

Carlson instructed the Archdiocese of St. Louis — which includes about 510,000 Catholics across 11 Missouri counties — to write the president, attorney general and members of Congress to call for an end to the practice and to pray for the affected families.

You can read Carlson's full statement here

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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Erin Heffernan is a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.