Migrants, Refugees, and Religion

Migrants, Refugees, and Religion

By: Robert Scott

All writers in Op Ed are here to inform and acknowledge issues of importance to our communities, however these writings represent the views  and opinions of the authors and not necessarily of The Advertiser.

It is Easter Season, and for liturgical Christian churches this is Holy Week. There have been several columns in this series addressing the obligations that most religions have urged on us regarding welcoming the stranger and loving our neighbors as ourselves. The moral duty to help international refugees, especially refugee families who are so much in the news this month, has been recognized not only by Protestant churches but by the American Muslim and Jewish communities and, quite strongly, by the Roman Catholic Church. Here, in recognition of Holy Week, are some quotations from Pope Francis on the subject of migrants and refugees.

“The Church is mother and her motherly attention is expressed with special tenderness and closeness to those who are obliged to flee their own country and exist between rootlessness and integration. This tension destroys people. Christian compassion – this ‘suffering with”, compassion – is expressed first of all in the commitment to obtain knowledge of the events that force people to leave their homeland, and, where necessary, to give voice to those who cannot manage to make their cry of distress and oppression heard.” (5/24/13)

“I ask leaders and legislators and the entire international community above all to confront the reality of those who have been displaced by force, with effective projects and new approaches in order to protect their dignity, to improve the quality of their life and to face the challenges that are emerging from modern forms of persecution, oppression and slavery.” (5/24/13)

“As we fix our gaze on the Holy Family of Nazareth as they were forced to become refugees, let us think of the tragedy of those migrants and refugees who are victims of rejection and exploitation, who are victims of human trafficking and of slave labor.” (12/29/13)

“Likewise, we cannot but be moved by the many refugees seeking minimally dignified living conditions, who not only fail to find hospitality, but often, tragically, perish in moving from place to place.” (1/17/14)

We Americans of every faith should remember our own background as a nation of immigrants most especially during Easter Season. Let us band together to ensure that refugees for whom our law grants even temporary respite are welcomed here. Many face the uncertainty of a judicial hearing, and to mitigate that uncertainty they should be allowed to move not to where we wish but to where they wish. To paraphrase Pope Francis, may we become once again a nation for whom refugees seeking asylum find hospitality.

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