U.S. Catholic Bishops Urge Nation To Continue Leading Efforts To Help Refugees

June 21, 2012 By Public Affairs Office
WASHINGTON— Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, chairman ofthe U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration, issued astatement in commemoration of the United Nation’s World Refugee Day.

Inhis statement, Archbishop Gomez offered prayers for the end of turmoil andviolence in Syria, which has generated an outflow of tens of thousands ofrefugees during the past year. He also expressed solidarity with Iraqis,particularly those fleeing religious persecution, who remain outside of Iraqfor fear of persecution.

Heurged the United States to remain a leader in providing assistance to refugees,especially during a time of unrest in the Middle East.A fact sheet on the work of the USCCB withrefugees can be found at: https://www.usccb.org/about/migration-policy/current-policy-issues/upload/fact-sheet-on-refugee-services.pdf

The statement follows:

Statement of Most Reverend Jose H. GomezArchbishop of Los Angeles, CAChairman, USCCB Committee on MigrationWorld Refugee Day 2012June 20, 2012

This week wecelebrate World Refugee Day, a day set aside to focus attention on the world’s12 million refugees.

Today, manynationalities are among the world’s refugee population because of unrest andviolence in their homelands—Congolese fleeing their war-torn nation;Rohingya Burmese fleeing persecution fromtheir government; Colombians fleeing guerilla groups; Iraqisfleeing war and an unstable securityenvironment in their homeland; and now Syrians fleeing internal strife.The global community, including the UnitedStates, must continue to respond to their dire conditions.

Another refugeecrisis is emerging—Syrians fleeing turmoil and violence.The countries of Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkeyare to be commended for receiving these refugees.I urge the United States and the worldcommunity to assist them.We pray thatthe fighting in Syria ends.

My brotherbishops and I remain troubled by the plight of Iraqis who have fled theircountry because of religious persecution, and urge our government to assist theIraqi government in protecting them and other Iraqis who live in fear ofpersecution.

The CatholicChurch in the United States does respond to the plight of the world’s refugees,in answer to the call of the Gospel to welcome the stranger.Migration and Refugee Services of the U.S.Conference of Catholic Bishops, assisted by diocesan Catholic Charities officesaround the nation, resettles as many as 20,000 refugees a year in the UnitedStates.The Catholic Church in theUnited States, through these agencies, represents the largest private refugeeresettlement organization in the world.Catholic Relief Services (CRS) provides support to refugee populationsoverseas.We help refugees of all religioustraditions.

I urge the U.S.government to continue to work with us to assist refugees.In the last two years, we have witnessed adecrease in the number of refugees being served by our U.S. refugeeprogram.This is in part because ofadditional security processes, but also because of a lack of politicalwill.As a result, Iraqis alreadyaccepted for the U.S. program—women and children particularly—and other at-riskpopulations remain in danger.

At the time ofan increase in the number of refugees in the world—due to recent crises inLibya, Somalia, Sudan, and Syria—our nation must not pull back from itshistoric commitment to the protection of refugees.

In the Gospel ofMatthew (2:13-23), Jesus and the Holy Family flee into Egypt from the terror ofHerod.Christ instructs us in Matthew(25:35-41) to “welcome the stranger,” and reminds us “what you do unto theleast of these, you do unto me.”

In the face ofthe refugee, we see the face of Christ.As we celebrate World Refugee Day, let us continue to welcome therefugee into our hearts and homes.

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Keywords: USCCB,US Bishops, refugee, Catholic Relief Services, World Refugee Day, Iraq,Archbishop Jose Gomez

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