Pope Francis Asks For Christian And Muslim Unity After Quebec AttackPrevious Article
Religious, Political Leaders Condemn Shooting At Quebec MosqueNext Article
Breaking News

Trumps Action Banning Refugees Brings Outcry From Church Leaders

Line Spacing+- AFont Size+- Print This Article
Trumps Action Banning Refugees Brings Outcry From Church Leaders

WASHINGTON (CNS) — President Donald Trump’s executive memorandum intended to restrict the entry of terrorists coming to the United States brought an outcry from Catholic leaders
across the U.S. Church leaders used phrases such as “devastating,” “chaotic” and “cruel” to
describe the Jan. 27 action that left already-approved refugees and immigrants
stranded at U.S. airports and led the Department of Homeland Security to rule
that green card holders — lawful permanent U.S. residents — be allowed into
the country. The leadership of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops late Jan. 30 praised fellow prelates for “their witness” in speaking out against Trump’s actions and “in defense of God’s people,” and called on “all the Catholic faithful to join us as we unite our
voices with all who speak in defense of human dignity. “The bond between Christians and
Muslims is founded on the unbreakable strength of charity and justice,” said
Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, USCCB president, and
Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, USCCB vice president, in a joint
statement. “The church will not waiver in her defense of our sisters and brothers of all faiths who suffer at the hands of merciless persecutors,” they said. “The refugees fleeing from ISIS
(Islamic State) and other extremists are sacrificing all they have in the name
of peace and freedom,” they said. “Often, they could be spared if only they
surrendered to the violent vision of their tormentors. They stand firm in their
faith.” Like all families, refugees “are seeking safety and security for their children,” they said. The U.S. “should welcome them as allies in a common fight against evil” and also “must screen vigilantly for infiltrators who would do us harm.” But the country “must always
be equally vigilant in our welcome of friends,” the prelates said. “Our desire is not to enter the political arena, but rather to proclaim Christ alive in the world today. In the
very moment a family abandons their home under threat of death, Jesus is
present,” Cardinal DiNardo and Archbishop Gomez said. In Chicago, Cardinal Blase J.
Cupich said in a Jan. 29 statement that the past weekend “proved to be a dark
moment in U.S. history.” “The executive order to turn away refugees and to close our nation to those, particularly Muslims, fleeing violence, oppression and persecution is contrary to both Catholic and American values,” he said. “Have we not repeated the disastrous decisions of
those in the past who turned away other people fleeing violence, leaving
certain ethnicities and religions marginalized and excluded? We Catholics know
that history well, for, like others, we have been on the other side of such
decisions. “Their design and implementation have been rushed, chaotic, cruel and oblivious to the realities that will produce enduring security for the United States,” Cardinal
Cupich said. “They have left people holding valid visas and other proper
documents detained in our airports, sent back to the places some were fleeing
or not allowed to board planes headed here. Only at the 11th hour did a federal
judge intervene to suspend this unjust action.” “The Protection of the
Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States,” which
suspends the entire U.S. refugee resettlement program for 120 days, bans entry
from all citizens of seven majority-Muslim countries — Syria, Iraq, Iran,
Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia — for 90 days. It also establishes a religious
criteria for refugees, proposing to give priority to religious minorities over
others who may have equally compelling refugee claims. “We are told this is not
the ‘Muslim ban’ that had been proposed during the presidential campaign, but
these actions focus on Muslim-majority countries,” said Cardinal Cupich.
“Ironically, this ban does not include the home country of 15 of the 19
Sept. 11 hijackers. Yet, people from Iraq, even those who assisted our military
in a destructive war, are excluded.” The cardinal quoted Pope
Francis’ remarks to Congress in 2015: “If we want security, let us give
security; if we want life, let us give life; if we want opportunities, let us
provide opportunities.” He said Pope Francis “followed with a warning that should haunt us as we come to terms with the events of the weekend: ‘The yardstick we use for others will be the yardstick which time will use for us.'” Bishop Robert W. McElroy of San
Diego said the executive action was “the introduction into law of campaign
sloganeering rooted in xenophobia and religious prejudice. Its devastating
consequences are already apparent for those suffering most in our world, for
our standing among nations, and for the imperative of rebuilding unity within
our country rather than tearing us further apart.” “This week the Statue of
Liberty lowered its torch in a presidential action which repudiates our
national heritage and ignores the reality that Our Lord and the Holy Family were
themselves Middle Eastern refugees fleeing government oppression. We cannot and
will not stand silent,” he said in a statement Jan. 29. Shortly after Trump signed the
document at the Pentagon’s Hall of Heroes, Bishop Joe S. Vasquez of Austin,
Texas, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Migration, said the bishops “strongly disagree” with the action to halt refugee resettlement. “We believe that now more
than ever, welcoming newcomers and refugees is an act of love and hope,”
Bishop Vasquez said. The USCCB runs the largest refugee resettlement program in the United States, and Bishop Vasquez said the church would continue to engage the administration, as it had with administrations for 40 years. “We will work vigorously to
ensure that refugees are humanely welcomed in collaboration with Catholic
Charities without sacrificing our security or our core values as Americans, and
to ensure that families may be reunified with their loved ones,” he said. He also reiterated the bishops’ commitment to protect the most vulnerable, regardless of religion. All
“are children of God and are entitled to be treated with human dignity. We
believe that by helping to resettle the most vulnerable, we are living out our
Christian faith as Jesus has challenged us to do.” Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of
Washington called attention to the USCCB statement and the executive action and
noted that “the legal situation is still fluid and news reports are
sometimes confusing.” “The political debate, which is complex and emotionally highly charged, will continue, but we must do our best to remain focused on the pastoral and very real work we undertake every day for the vulnerable and most in need … for the strangers at our
doors,” he said. Around the country, people gathered at airports to express solidarity with immigrants and green card holders denied admission, including an Iraqi who had helped the 101st Airborne during the Iraqi war. More than 550 people gathered at Lafayette Park across
from the White House Jan. 29 to celebrate Mass in solidarity with refugees. In a letter to the president and members of Congress, more than 2,000 religious leaders representing the
Interfaith Immigration Coalition objected to the action. In a separate statement, Jesuit
Refugee Services-USA said the provisions of the executive action “violate
Catholic social teaching that calls us to welcome the stranger and treat others
with the compassion and solidarity that we would wish for ourselves.” Sean Callahan, president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services, said: “Welcoming those in need is part of
America’s DNA. “Denying entry to people desperate enough to leave their homes, cross oceans in tiny boats, and abandon all their worldly possessions just to find safety will not make our nation safer. The United States is already using a thorough vetting process for refugees
— especially for those from Syria and surrounding countries. CRS welcomes
measures that will make our country safer, but they shouldn’t jeopardize the
safety of those fleeing violence; should not add appreciable delay nor entail
unjust discrimination, ” he said.


Vatican Live Video Feed

Pope Francis on Twitter