- Associated Press - Friday, February 17, 2017

MODESTO, Calif. (AP) - The Latest on a Vatican-sponsored conference on economic inequality (all times local):

2:30 p.m.

The archbishop of Los Angeles said at a Vatican-sponsored conference Friday that the new White House administration is cruelly playing with people’s lives.

Archbishop Jose Gomez said fears surrounding deportation are not new, but that the administration under President Donald Trump has set a harsh tone and shows a cruelty he does not like. Gomez said a high number of people were also deported when Barack Obama was president.

He was part of a spirited panel on migration that also featured Zahra Billoo, executive director of the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Billoo thanked the more than 600 people gathered for including her in a broader panel rather than a separate one on Muslims alone. Billoo also applauded the communities for sticking up for each other and not allowing the president’s executive orders split Muslims and people who are in the country illegally.

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10:30 a.m.

Speakers at a Vatican-sponsored conference in Northern California have called on the Catholic church to acknowledge its own racism and urged those attending to fight against oppression.

Bishop Shelton Fabre of the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux in Louisiana says the church should use its influence to eradicate racism “from the human heart.”

More than 600 clergy and social justice activists are meeting in the small city of Modesto in California’s agricultural heartland for a four-day conference on economic inequality.

The gathering comes as the world grapples with the impact of President Donald Trump’s efforts to change U.S. immigration policy.

Pope Francis welcomed the group Thursday night with a letter in which he said “no people is criminal and no religion is terrorist.”

Migration is due for discussion Friday afternoon.


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