Refugees Must Not Be Shunned


After the horrific terrorist attacks in Paris last week, some have called for a complete ban on refugees fleeing Syria or other majority Muslim countries. While there are certainly security questions about anyone entering the United States, it is simply bigotry to reject people from a certain part of the world without adequate reason.

Catholic Social Teaching distinguishes between refugees from those simply in migration. A refugee is one fleeing a country for fear of persecution. Such people, the Church teaches, must be welcomed and their safety secured insofar as is possible.

As Bishop Tobin explained: “[I]t is important that prudence not be replaced by hysteria. As is our well-established practice, the Diocese of Providence stands ready to assist in a careful and thoughtful process of refugee resettlement.”

The Diocese of Providence assists in the resettlement of over 40 refugees each year. They come from a variety of backgrounds but all have one thing in common. They are fleeing a place where their safety is at grave risk if they were to remain. What kind of society do we have if we are unwilling to welcome them?

Racism and simple ignorance have no place in public discourse. The Church makes an important contribution to the public conversation when we insist that those in need of refugee should be able to find a place on our shores. Legitimate concern about recent events should not replace Christian charity and sound social policy.