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U.S. Catholic Bishops Urge Nation To Continue Leading Efforts To Help Refugees

June 21, 2012

USCCB Migration Chairman recognizes refugees around the world
Expresses concern for Syrians and Iraqis

WASHINGTON— Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration, issued a statement in commemoration of the United Nation’s World Refugee Day.

In his statement, Archbishop Gomez offered prayers for the end of turmoil and violence in Syria, which has generated an outflow of tens of thousands of refugees during the past year. He also expressed solidarity with Iraqis, particularly those fleeing religious persecution, who remain outside of Iraq for fear of persecution.

He urged the United States to remain a leader in providing assistance to refugees, especially during a time of unrest in the Middle East.A fact sheet on the work of the USCCB with refugees can be found at:

The statement follows:

Statement of Most Reverend Jose H. Gomez
Archbishop of Los Angeles, CA
Chairman, USCCB Committee on Migration
World Refugee Day 2012
June 20, 2012

This week we celebrate World Refugee Day, a day set aside to focus attention on the world’s 12 million refugees.

Today, many nationalities are among the world’s refugee population because of unrest and violence in their homelands—Congolese fleeing their war-torn nation;Rohingya Burmese fleeing persecution from their government; Colombians fleeing guerilla groups; Iraqisfleeing war and an unstable security environment in their homeland; and now Syrians fleeing internal strife.The global community, including the United States, must continue to respond to their dire conditions.

Another refugee crisis is emerging—Syrians fleeing turmoil and violence.The countries of Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey are to be commended for receiving these refugees.I urge the United States and the world community to assist them.We pray that the fighting in Syria ends.

My brother bishops and I remain troubled by the plight of Iraqis who have fled their country because of religious persecution, and urge our government to assist the Iraqi government in protecting them and other Iraqis who live in fear of persecution.

The Catholic Church in the United States does respond to the plight of the world’s refugees, in answer to the call of the Gospel to welcome the stranger.Migration and Refugee Services of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, assisted by diocesan Catholic Charities offices around the nation, resettles as many as 20,000 refugees a year in the United States.The Catholic Church in the United States, through these agencies, represents the largest private refugee resettlement organization in the world.Catholic Relief Services (CRS) provides support to refugee populations overseas.We help refugees of all religious traditions.

I urge the U.S. government to continue to work with us to assist refugees.In the last two years, we have witnessed a decrease in the number of refugees being served by our U.S. refugee program.This is in part because of additional security processes, but also because of a lack of political will.As a result, Iraqis already accepted for the U.S. program—women and children particularly—and other at-risk populations remain in danger.

At the time of an increase in the number of refugees in the world—due to recent crises in Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Syria—our nation must not pull back from its historic commitment to the protection of refugees.

In the Gospel of Matthew (2:13-23), Jesus and the Holy Family flee into Egypt from the terror of Herod.Christ instructs us in Matthew (25:35-41) to “welcome the stranger,” and reminds us “what you do unto the least of these, you do unto me.”

In the face of the refugee, we see the face of Christ.As we celebrate World Refugee Day, let us continue to welcome the refugee into our hearts and homes.


Keywords: USCCB, US Bishops, refugee, Catholic Relief Services, World Refugee Day, Iraq, Archbishop Jose Gomez

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Norma Montenegro Flynn
O: 202-541-3202

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