Both the Old and New Testaments tell compelling stories of refugees forced to flee because of oppression. Jesus himself gave us the instruction, "For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me" (Mt 25:35).
Catholic Social Teaching states that people have the right to move to provide for a better life for themselves and their families. We have never advocated to open our borders indiscriminately, but are called to live out this teaching with open hearts and to accompany those who are lawfully seeking a new life in a new land without discriminating by race, creed or religion. We strongly support protection of religious minorities, including Christians. We recognize that people of many faiths and nationalities are also persecuted and need protection. We support protection for all vulnerable refugees, regardless of nationality or religion.
The recent Executive Orders regarding immigration and refugee resettlement do not support our Catholic principles. While we must provide for the security of our communities and our nation, we must regulate our borders in a way that is just and merciful and supports the dignity of the human person and families. We must reach out with compassion to those who have lost loved ones and who are victims of persecution and violence.
We believe the immigration system in this country is broken, and that it has been broken for many years. These Executive Orders do nothing to address the critical issues affecting so many around the world seeking a new life. My plea to our government leaders is that we take up this very real issue.
I ask all people of good will to pray and reflect on this, remembering that Jesus himself was once a refugee, and that our call to reach out in love to those who are vulnerable and suffering comes from our Savior. I pray that voices are heard, and that those with opposing beliefs can come together in a peaceful way to work for justice. Let us together move from attitudes of defensiveness and fear towards acceptance and compassion so that we may answer the Gospel call to, “welcome the stranger.”