Statement from Daniel Cardinal DiNardo regarding the recent humanitarian crisis
July 22, 2014
Below is a statement from Daniel Cardinal DiNardo regarding the recent humanitarian crisis:
Our nation has a long and honorable tradition of assisting refugees around the world who flee violence, economic oppression and political persecution. Whether seeking safety from genocide and religious persecution in Africa, shelter from the horrendous effects of Middle-East conflicts, or seeking to escape famine and modern day slavery in so many parts of the world, refugees hold a special place in the hearts of freedom loving, compassionate people.
In so many of these crises, both the flag and the generosity of the United States of America has been present to provide support and to alleviate suffering. For this, we can all be proud.
However, we recognize the severe refugee crisis that has been brought so close to home by the recent influx of tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors crossing our southern border. We note that the overwhelming majority of these children seek refuge from economically hard-pressed, tragically poor, and violently ravaged countries. Yet, in the minds of many their startling numbers test our values and the reach of our compassion as well as the physical limits of our charity. We also dutifully acknowledge the concerns of those who are fearful and concerned over the possibilities of the spread of disease and increase in violence.
Nevertheless, we appeal to the Catholic faithful, as well as all people of good will throughout our region. We encourage all to bring to this crisis the kind of compassion and generosity of spirit so characteristic of the communities within the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. Through civil discourse and collaboration among health care providers, charitable, civic and business organizations, and government, we can offer a welcoming, nurturing and safe refuge to these vulnerable children.
As a faith community, the Catholic Church of this archdiocese is committed to living out the gospel call to serve, "the least of these." Through our charitable agencies, such as Catholic Charities, we offer our prayers, our energy, time and financial resources to contribute in a positive manner to attending to needs of these vulnerable children as well as to allay the suspicions and fears of others in our community.
We also take note of the creativity and energy, generosity and commitment that has so often emerged in times of crisis from the communities in our region. We are confident that, together, the challenges we face in light of the refugee influx can be met and overcome to benefit the unaccompanied children with a minimum of disruption in our communities.
The Texas Catholic Conference issued a letter to all members of the Texas Congressional delegation urging them to reach a policy consensus that compassionately and effectively addresses the humanitarian crisis along the southern border. In addition, the Texas Catholic Bishops have established a set of principles to guide our policymakers in this crisis.
The letter was signed by Bishops from each of the 15 dioceses across the state, and appealed for prompt actions in securing emergency funding as well as upholding the due process rights of refugees seeking asylum from the suffering, abuse, and death in their home countries.
[.pdf letter or copy/paste letter goes here]
Statement of Principles Regarding Refugee Families And Children
Our state confronts a continuing humanitarian crisis on the border as Central American children continue to seek refuge from the violence and exploitation in their home countries. This influx has sparked contentious debate over how to address this problem.
As Catholics we are called to compassion for the vulnerable and needy. Pope Francis has noted that Jesus was Himself a refugee who was forced into exile in Egypt as a child with Joseph and Mary.
In welcoming refugee children today, we should see the face of Christ. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus instructs us to welcome the stranger: "For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me…Just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it unto me." (Mt. 25-35).
The Texas Catholic Bishops have established a set of principles to guide our policymakers in this crisis:
• Government immigration agencies and law enforcement personnel should treat all refugees seeking asylum with dignity, fairness, compassion, and in full accordance with their due process rights in seeking asylum. Expedited processing risks diminishing due process and mistakes on legitimate asylum claims.
• Allocate emergency funding to provide humanitarian aid for refugees, to ensure resources for governmental workers to efficiently perform their jobs, and to allow existing refugee programs to continue.
• Preserve the bipartisan Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 to protect refugee children fleeing violence, exploitation, and possible death in their home countries.
• Reaffirm the nation's right and responsibility to maintain secure borders and to intercept unauthorized migrants by targeted, proportional, and humane measures.
• Both governmental and non-governmental agencies should broadly communicate the risks and dangers of violence, exploitation, and possible denial of asylum that may await potential migrants considering the trek north.
• The federal government should collaborate with the governments of Central America and Mexico to alleviate the root problems of this situation, including human trafficking, violent gangs and cartels, poverty, and structural injustice.
We must remember that these are young, scared, and desperate mothers and children in need and deserve our protection and support. We pray for the safety and wellbeing of these young refugees and for the continued efforts of public officials to resolve this humanitarian crisis.
Visit the Texas Catholic Conference website (www.txcatholic.org) for additional information and resources.
Visit the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston website (www.catholiccharities.org/uac) to find out how you can help.