On Wednesday, Pope Francis led an inspiring launch of #SharetheJourney, a global, two-year campaign in support of migrants and refugees. He opened his arms wide in a loving gesture and said, “Christ urges us to welcome our brothers and sisters with our arms truly open, ready for a sincere embrace, a loving and enveloping embrace.”
Migrants and refugees are not after our jobs, our lives or our culture. They are looking with hope toward a brighter future for their families in collaboration and with integration into their new homeland; just as my ancestors sought the same in the mid-1700’s. Their plight is little different from those in my family who fled war, persecution and economic hardship almost three hundred years ago. Continue reading “#ShareTheJourney”→
#WorldRefugeeDay is a day of action! Through #CatholicRelief, #GlobalCitizen and other organizations, we have the confidence that we can make a difference of people who are suffering from displacement, terror and fear. Continue reading “Another #WorldRefugeeDay”→
For many years I have been a big fan of TED Talks. I find that the talks generally live up to the TED slogan “Ideas Worth Sharing.” I don’t agree with every speaker and I don’t find all of the talks equally stimulating; but I usually learn something, find a unique perspective or discover a new way to think about the world that we all live in.
This week in something of a surprise, Pope Francis gave a talk to TED 2017 that was entitled The Only Future Worth Building Includes Everyone. In a world that is increasingly divisive, nationalistic, partisan, and fearful, the Pope makes a strong argument that each person can be a messenger of hope and all of our individual “yous” can be come a collective “us” to address the needs of our world and time. Regardless of your faith tradition or no faith tradition his talk is compelling and worth a 17 minute investment of time. If you would prefer to read his comments rather than listen to them they may be found here: His Holiness Pope Francis at TED2017
#Refugees who are fleeing persecution or the violence and destruction of war deserve to be welcomed. As I have stated before, it is in the National DNA of the American people to come to the aid of those who are in need, oppressed or desperate for safety. When we have failed to live up to this National instinct, we have found ourselves on the wrong side of history and later spoke of our profound regret. Take for instance, our country’s rejection of Jews fleeing Nazi Germany. After turning them away, many ended up dying in concentration camps at the hands of those they were trying to escape from. We recall that time and action with shame.
Hostility toward people in need is not an American characteristic or virtue. Neither is cowardice. Historically, Americans are willing to not only speak for those in need, but we have been willing to take risks to protect them. I like to think of our country like the man who is willing to take a personal risk and step into difficult situations to protect those who are more vulnerable. It is the country that we have tried to be in my lifetime. But things are changing.
President Trump’s ill conceived, poorly executed, and legally questionable Executive Order barring refugees seeking safety in the United States, is an act of both hostility and cowardice that is antithetical to our American tradition. Americans should be appalled, but for some reason 30%-40% of us are are not. We should ask ourselves, ‘Is the extremely low probability of a terrorist entering the country a fair balance against the pain and suffering of millions of people?’ My answer is, ‘It is not.’ To let people suffer and die because we might have the slight risk of harm is not an American virtue, it is cowardice.
For a real look at the “dangerous” people that so many Americans are so very afraid of, take the time to view the documentary: 4.1 Miles. It was made by Daphne Matziaraki and has been nominated for an Academy Award. After watching it, just ask yourself, do these people deserve our hostility or should we really have such great fear of them. I hope your answer on both questions is a firm NO! Let’s tell our leaders that we can do more, bear more and be welcoming and brave Americans.
Deep within each of us is a moral compass. We can look at that compass and follow it or not; that is called free will. It is interesting how instinctive and easy it is for children to follow the moral direction it points with compassion and heartfelt sympathy for others. A six-year old New York boy named Alex saw the picture of little Omran Daqneesh in the back of an ambulance in Aleppo, Syria and was moved with compassion. He was so moved that he wrote a letter to President Obama asking the President to go get Omran and bring him to the U.S. so that Alex’s family “will give him a family and he will be our brother.” The moving story of Alex’s plea can be found here: Alex’s Letter to the President.
Deep within each of us is a moral compass. Like Alex, we each should follow it; it will help us navigate to a better world.
A few months ago I posted from a blog written by a woman who goes by the name JustAScottishGirl. She has spent the better part of the past 10 months working with the refugees who are coming ashore on the island of Kos, Greece. Today she posted another poignant piece reflecting on her time there and the successes and failures she has witnessed. It is well worth reading.
Memories are funny things, they sneak up on you when you least expect, making you feel want to have a little cry in the middle of dinner or making you burst out laughing when you are with…
“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 … 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.” – Pope Francis
Today is World Refugee Day. It is time to show world leaders that the global public stands in solidarity with the millions of refugees who have fled their homes due to war or persecution. These are real people with families whose lives, hopes and dreams have been dramatically disrupted by conflict. Each of us can make a difference by contacting our national leaders and asking for their support to aid refugees, work to end the conflicts that have led to their fleeing and help to return them home. Your voice and mine can make a difference.
The St. Louis Review has an excellent article about our Catholic Relief Services trip to the Balkans to meet with the refugees from the wars in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. The article is Fr. Ron Chochol’s perspective on the situation. I’ve had the great pleasure of traveling with Fr. Ron on CRS trips to Kenya (in 2014) and to the Balkans this year. I trust you will find his observations very worthwhile.
Catholic Relief Services has a Media Center that contains information about a wide range of CRS humanitarian efforts taking place around the world. The work done by CRS is done in the name of the American Catholic Church, so all American Catholics should have an interest in this work. Today there are posts related to the Pope’s visit to Central America, work in the Central African Republic, and our Global Fellows trip to the Balkans. You can access the CRS Media Center at the following link: CRS Media Center
#CatholicRelief is on the ground, providing humanitarian aid during this #RefugeeCrisis