The Great Migration
In Search for a Better Life
“I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” (Matt 25:35)
The Syrian Refugee Crisis
The Catholic Church and the bishops of the United States have expressed their serious concern for the political and humanitarian crisis in Syria. In the past five years, at least four million Syrians have fled their country as a consequence of the civil war and the rise of ISIS. Most have fled to surrounding countries, especially Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey, and according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), so far this year almost 600,000 migrants are estimated to have arrived by sea to the European shores with the hope of finding a place of peace and safety, although exact numbers are unclear as some may have passed through borders undetected. Many attempt the crossing in overcrowded and unseaworthy boats, leading to scores of deaths due to drowning and starvation: 3,092 people have died in the Mediterranean in 2015 according to the IOM. The number of Syrians fleeing the ongoing conflict in their country far outweighs those who have made the difficult journey to Europe, but the ongoing violence in Afghanistan, abuses in Eritrea, as well as poverty in Kosovo have also caused people to look for new lives elsewhere.
Pope Francis and the Catholic bishops through the voice of Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, Archbishop of Louisville, KY, and President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), have called on the U.S. government and the international community to provide support to both Syrian refugees fleeing violence and to countries that have been at the forefront of this humanitarian effort. Pope Francis keeps reminding us to seek “respect for the sacredness of every human life, of every man and every woman, the poor, the elderly, children, the infirm, the unborn, the unemployed, the abandoned, those considered disposable because they are only considered as part of a statistic.” The Pope and U.S. Bishops asked all efforts been made to:
• Ending the conflict in Syria and Iraq
• Building an inclusive and lasting peace to allow Syrian refugees—also including those who are ethnic and religious minorities– to return home and rebuild their countries.
• Providing humanitarian assistance to Syrian refugees who have fled to neighboring refugee countries.
• Providing development aid to refugee host countries near Syria so they are able to properly welcome and care for the refugees.
• Providing 100,000 annual resettlement slots for the most vulnerable refugees fleeing the Syria conflict.
• Designating an additional 100,000 refugees to be resettled in the U.S. from other countries.
“For the Church, immigration is mainly about the human aspects of the issue – in other words, how our policies should protect human dignity. Migration is about human beings. So it has moral implications.” (Archbishop Chaput from Philadelphia)
“Migrants and Refugees Challenge Us. The Response of the Gospel of Mercy”
…..In our time, migration is growing worldwide. Refugees and people fleeing from their homes challenge individuals and communities, and their traditional ways of life; at times they upset the cultural and social horizons which they encounter. Increasingly, the victims of violence and poverty, leaving their homelands, are exploited by human traffickers during their journey towards the dream of a better future. If they survive the abuses and hardships of the journey, they then have to face latent suspicions and fear. In the end, they frequently encounter a lack of clear and practical policies regulating the acceptance of migrants and providing for short or long term programs of integration respectful of the rights and duties of all…..
Read the full text of the Message from His Holiness Pope Francis for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2016
Our world is facing a refugee crisis of a magnitude not seen since the Second World War. This presents us with great challenges and many hard decisions. On this continent, too, thousands of persons are led to travel north in search of a better life for themselves and for their loved ones, in search of greater opportunities. Is this not what we want for our own children? We must not be taken aback by their numbers, but rather view them as persons, seeing their faces and listening to their stories, trying to respond as best we can to their situation. To respond in a way which is always humane, just and fraternal. We need to avoid a common temptation nowadays: to discard whatever proves troublesome. Let us remember the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Mt. 7:12). (Pope Francis, 9/24/15, Speech to the US Congress)
What Can You Do
PRAY that God provides his protection to Syrians and all other refugees displaced by violence and persecution.
WRITE to President Obama, urging him to expand U.S. resettlement efforts of Syrian refugees who are fleeing unspeakable atrocities and violence.
ADVOCATE to your member of Congress for providing urgently needed development aid for refugee host countries near Syria that have heroically borne the brunt of the Syrian refugee crisis.
DONATE to the National Catholic Fund for Migration and Refugee Services to help sponsor newly-arriving Syrian and other refugees and provide for their critical needs.
Life, Charity & Justice News
Texas Bishops Urge Medicaid Expansion
“Integral to the right for life. . .is the right to basic health care”
The Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops has called upon Governor Greg Abbott and other state leaders to end a political standoff and reconsider the state’s refusal to expand Medicaid coverage for an estimated 1.3 million uninsured Texans. The Bishops’ concern focuses on adult Texans caught in a “Medicaid coverage gap” where they earn too much to be eligible for Medicaid, but are unable to secure health insurance on their own or through their employer. Lawmakers have declined to expand Medicaid for these poor, even though the federal government has offered some $100 billion to subsidize the expansion over the next decade.
Life, Justice and Charity Activities at St. Mary’s
- Oct. 17 to 25 in the church: Baby Crib Drive for baby items for the Good Samaritan program of Catholic Charities and The Elizabeth House Maternity Home;
- Fri Oct 23rd & Sat Oct 24th in Austin: Journey to Mercy – Rethinking the Death Penalty in Texas, Conference on capital punishment and A Walk for Life, Hope, Mercy – Standing Against the Death Penalty;
- Oct 31 to Nov 1 in the church: filled Baby Banks are due back;
- Sunday Nov 1 in the lounge: sale of Fair Trade chocolate and coffee at the Fair Trade Coffee House;
- Oct 31 to Nov 19 in the church: St. Vincent de Paul Thanksgiving Food Drive.