Diocese of St. Cloud
January 30, 2017
Our nation has a long history of welcoming immigrants and refugees. Whether leaving their homelands to escape persistent poverty, war or religious persecution, immigrants and refugees have always looked to the United States as a land of opportunity, a place to start a new and better life for their families.
This is why I am so concerned about the recent executive actions taken by the Trump administration to place restrictions on the refugee process and build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. These actions put vulnerable people at further risk and erode important values that our nation is built upon.
The Gospel reading in our churches this past weekend centered on the Beatitudes. We were reminded that “blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” Immigrants and refugees are especially in need of our mercy and our welcome.
I continue to read stories about refugees who have been forced from their homes, persecuted for their religious beliefs, or witnessed loved ones killed in senseless and unnecessary wars. There are stories about immigrants who risk their lives to cross our southern border because it is the only real option they have to live a dignified life. Family separation, for both refugees and other immigrants, is always an ongoing fear.
Our nation needs safe and secure borders and a reliable vetting process, but we cannot achieve them by sacrificing human rights and basic principles we hold dear as Americans, including justice, fairness and religious freedom. Refugee policies should serve all people fleeing religious persecution, no matter whether they are Christians, Muslims or members of another faith. All have equal dignity that should be respected.
I want immigrants and refugees in our diocese — wherever they are from — to know that I stand with them and support them in their efforts to rebuild their lives, keep their families together, and make positive contributions to their communities. Walls — whether written into policy or built into the ground — divide rather than bring people together. Rather than building walls, as Pope Francis has said, we need to build bridges between people in order to dispel fears and foster relationships that will ultimately strengthen our communities.
As Christians, we are called to be the face of Christ, extending our hospitality, care and mercy to all of our brothers and sisters in need. In that spirit, I encourage Catholics and others of goodwill to reach out to the refugees and immigrants already in our midst to learn about the challenges they face. And, I encourage our faithful to contact our president and federal lawmakers at this critical time and share with them the importance of adopting refugee and immigration policies that are fair and just for all of God’s people.