INDIVIDUAL priests and bishops in the Philippines have spoken out, as Pope Francis has, to remind their flock and parishioners that we must have hearts feeling the pains, difficulties and fears of refugees. And hands willing to help them.
Our Man-God, Lord and Savior Himself, Jesus Christ, Christian saints and Old Testament prophets have made heart-rending calls on people to be compassionate to those in need, who have lost their homes and even families and are looking for a new secure place to start being human again after the tragedies they have endured.
Pope Francis last Thursday, in the announcement of his video prayer intention for February 2017, exhorted us all, “Don’t abandon the poor and the refugees.”
Zenit.org’s report, with the translation for English readers by Virginia M. Forrester, quotes the Holy Father saying:
“Don’t abandon them,” appeals Pope Francis in his prayer intention on video for the month of February 2017, dedicated to “those who are afflicted, especially the poor, the refugees and the marginalized.”
In the video made public on February 2, the Pope said “we live in towns that build towers, commercial centers, engage in real estate business, but leave a part of themselves on the margin, on the peripheries.”
“As a consequence of this situation, great masses of the population see themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without prospects, without a way out,” he noted, exhorting to “not abandon them.”
“Pray with me for all persons experiencing trials, in particular those who are poor, refugees or marginalized, so that they find hospitality and comfort in our communities,” adds the Pope.
At the same time, the US Catholic bishops expressed their concern for refugees who are placed in a difficult waiting situation for 90 and maybe up to 120 days as long as President Trump’s executive order freezing the entry to America of refugees from seven Muslim majority nations.
We in The Times believe every nation’s officials are duty bound to prevent the entry of anyone—even refugees—who in the proper investigation by security officers are found to be potential terrorists or people who in other ways pose threats to citizens of the destination country.
But we agree with the Pope and the US Catholic bishops about doing the work of keeping the citizens safe from killers, whether radical Islamists or whoever, with muc care about what happens to the poor and marginalized and the innocent refugees.
After US President Trump issued his EO, Radio Vaticano reported that the bishops immediately commiserated with and issued “words of solidarity with the Muslim community” and “expressed deep concern over religious freedom issues raised by President Trump’s Executive Order on refugees.” The Bishops’ statement was published on the website of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). It was signed by Bishops Mitchell Rozanski (Springfield), William Lori (Baltimore) and Oscar Cantu (Las Cruces).
The statement also said that the American bishops Episcopal Conference join “other faith leaders to stand in solidarity with those affected” by the Order.
“We recognize that Friday evening’s Executive Order has generated fear and untold anxiety among refugees, immigrants, and others throughout the faith community in the United States. In response to the Order, we join with other faith leaders to stand in solidarity again with those affected by this order, especially our Muslim sisters and brothers. We also express our firm resolution that the Order’s stated preference for ‘religious minorities’ should be applied to protect not only Christians where they are a minority, but all religious minorities who suffer persecution, which includes Yazidis, Shia Muslims in majority Sunni areas, and vice versa.”