Vatican official: The bishops ‘are speaking clearly’ on refugees

Vatican City, Feb 6, 2017 / 06:45 pm (CNA).- In the wake of President Donald Trump’s recent policy on refugees, U.S. Catholics should stay close to their bishops, who are providing a clear, correct and unified response to the issue, a Vatican official said.

Jesuit Fr. Michael Czerny is secretary of the new Vatican Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development, which includes an office for refugees and migrants, currently headed by the Pope himself.

Fr. Czerny told CNA that right now, the U.S. bishops are doing a good job responding to the policy. “I think the key is for Catholics to stay close to their bishops. Dialogue and unity are the two keys to a moment like this,” he said.

“And the bishops are speaking clearly, they’re speaking loudly, they’re speaking with a great deal of unity. Those who are concerned should listen to them, and also should reach out to help them.”

Earlier this week, Cardinal Joseph Tobin told CNA that according to Fr. Czerny, Pope Francis has confidence that the U.S. bishops are giving the issue “a Gospel response.”

“The bishops in the United States are responding as their vocation calls them to, as their mission calls them to,” Fr. Czerny said. “They are acting as real shepherds of the people…not just of the people in their own flock, but they are really shepherds to all people.”

Asked what the Holy See’s plan is for engaging with the U.S. government on immigration policies, he said that they plan to use the U.S. bishops as their first line of communication and engagement, watching them and supporting them in whatever way they need.

“They’re responding very well,” he said. “And for the moment, they’re the people to listen to on this issue.” For the average Catholic, if they have something to offer, suggest or contribute to their bishops, they should do so, he said. “I think a Church united around its bishops will respond really well.”

United with the bishops, U.S. Catholics can help influence political leaders to enact policies that support and uphold the dignity of all human persons.

“As citizens and as Christians,” Fr. Czerny said, “we need to help our leaders to reflect and enact our real values.” If, for whatever reason, they start to push policies that “are violating our basic principles and our own fundamental history, then it’s up to us to se them straight.”

“There’s no justification for whipping up fear and hysteria when a calm approach can certainly find good solutions and can promote the common good.”

In response to the argument that accepting refugees into a country will endanger its citizens by increasing the likelihood of acts of terrorism, he said that this is something it is easy to be “tricked into” believing through imagery or misleading reporting.

But, he pointed out, if governments are honest, and they look at how they may have actually contributed, or are contributing, to the current situation, they’ll “find more useful things to do with their energy than scapegoat refugees.”

“There are other ways in which governments in their foreign policy, in their trade policy, in their security policies, have done a lot to promote and provoke the very terrorism that they are now regretting,” he said.

The solution is not victimizing refugees, the solution is solving problems at their roots, he said. “That’s the job of governments, that’s why they are instituted and that’s what they should be spending their time and energy doing.”

In the end, immigration is an issue that is affecting the entire world right now, not just one or two countries. And the challenges and difficulties are real, he acknowledged. “But I can’t imagine a situation where one would say afterwards that it was too bad that we let them in, we wish we hadn’t.”

“So I think we need to have some faith and hope, and use our considerable resources and our ingenuity to find solutions. And the solutions are waiting to be found, and everyone of good will is ready to give a hand, and that will make us all a better people.”


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