The refugee men travel in gangs. They have no children. They have no jobs. They are angry. They are violent. They were taught violence. They want to feel important, and so they join the extremist groups that promise victory and reward for bringing down the enemy. They migrate and leave disruption and fear in their wake. Nations vow to protect themselves and shut out all refugees, at least for a while.
The refugee families sit in the street. It is hot, dusty, and water is scarce. Food is scarce too. In pathetic resignation a woman cries out, “I am not one of those men! Our children are innocent! Our family is persecuted. We are scared and there is no place to go. Can you not see that? We need help. Our children are suffering. Please let us come to you.”
The above stories are the impressions I have about our current refugee situation. In prayer today I found myself wondering about my attitudes, as I have conflicted sentiments. As if a movie was playing in my mind, I imagined these refugee stories.
As a Catholic woman I understand our church’s role in the scenario of the families above – to love them, welcome them, and be merciful to them. As a citizen I think we should avoid the chaos we see in parts of Europe as a result of the influx of refugees/migrants there.
The Catholic Church recognizes the right of a nation to protect its borders and to expect its laws to be obeyed. It also recognizes the rights of persons to be treated with dignity and to provide for themselves and their families through meaningful employment. Multiple statements are available about this from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on their website at www.usccb.org. This is a recent addition:
“In response to the Appeals Court ruling, Most Reverend Joe Vasquez, Bishop of Austin, Texas, and Chair of the Committee on Migration stated: “We welcome the decision of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. We respect the rule of law and the American judicial process. We remain steadfast in our commitment to resettling refugees and all those fleeing persecution. At this time, we remain particularly dedicated to ensuring that affected refugee and immigrant families are not separated and that they continue to be welcomed to our country. We will continue to welcome the newcomer as it is a vital part of our Catholic faith and an enduring element of our American values and tradition.”
As I work through my own conflicting thoughts over this crisis I’ll do the very best I can to contribute to the greater answer. I’ll pray. Will you join me?
Loving Lord, grant wisdom to our lawmakers who make decisions regarding the fate of all refugees and immigrants. Show us how to offer help and hope to those who suffer. Amen.