Cardinal Cupich Discusses Welcoming Refugees and More in New Interview

Fr. Thomas Rosica has a new interview at Salt and Light with Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago. Cardinal Cupich discusses a wide range of topics, including welcoming refugees: “We have to keep burning brightly that lamp that Lady Liberty has in our harbor in New York…it’s part of our heritage, it’s part of our soul. We do have a moral responsibility.” You can watch the interview here:

We Are All Refugees…Some of Us Just Don’t Know It

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My wife and I are one month away from being homeless…at least we thought we might be until yesterday. We are currently in the process of buying a house, and everything was moving along smoothly until the inspector discovered an abandoned oil tank under the driveway. If it turned out that the tank had leaks, it would require extensive cleanup that could take months, even a year or more. That would be a big problem since our landlord has already rented our apartment to a new tenant starting April 1. Fortunately for us, it turned out that the tank had no leaks, so our family’s brush with temporary homelessness will materialize into nothing more than that.

A momentary scare like this one tends to make one very grateful for the roof over one’s head. Even more significantly, Margaret and I are very much aware that we will soon have the privilege of moving into a home of our own at the very moment that we are witnessing a worldwide migrant crisis. Millions of people have been displaced not only from their homes but also their homelands by violent conflict, religious persecution, and economic hardship. This is a heart-wrenching backdrop to a joyful moment in our lives. How is a socially conscious, soon-to-be-homeowner Catholic to feel about all this?

A big reason that we are excited about finally having a home to call our own is that this means having a home to share with others. Margaret and I love to host. For me a dinner party with good friends is an image and foretaste of the Heavenly Banquet, an analogy that Jesus himself drew frequently (see Mt 22:1-14; 25:5-15; Lk 12:31-41). From the time of our engagement, we have talked talked about our hopes that our home would be a place where neighbors would congregate, where our kids’ friends would stick around for dinner, where people would know they always have a place to stay. We have hoped that when we had a house one day, we would be able to open our doors to those in need as our parents have done.

Perhaps it is because all things house-related are consuming my thoughts these days that I was so impacted by a line I recently read in Thich Nhat Hanh’s book How to Love. The Zen Master writes, “As you practice building a home in yourself, you become more and more beautiful.” This idea of building a home, not just around oneself, but within oneself strikes me as profoundly important, especially given the current state of world affairs. My wife and I will soon have a new home that we can open up to others. However, a brick-and-mortar house is not a prerequisite for hospitality. Each of us is a home unto ourselves, or at least we can be if we commit to the necessary interior work. (How much time most of us spend selecting wallpaper and manicuring the lawn and how little time getting our spiritual house in order!) All that we need to feel at home and to make others feel the same—namely, love—is with us wherever we go. Even for those who have been driven from their dwelling places, a kind word or a cup of tea extended in friendship can be all they need to feel a sense of home again.

In this sense hospitality is not the sole prerogative of the well-to-do or even average homeowners; it is a mandate of faith for all Christians. Few commands are repeated more often throughout the pages of the Bible than that of caring for strangers or aliens. (See a sampling here.) Jesus affirms this key tenet of faith by identifying with the homeless and the stranger: “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head” (Mt 8:15-25). Nowhere in the Gospels does Jesus lay out the criteria for entering God’s kingdom more explicitly than in Matthew 25 where he says, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you… for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me” (Mt 25:34-35). Scripture leaves no room for excuses on this score. We are all bound to care for the strangers in our midst. Here Jesus does not require something we cannot give. We may not all own houses, but we all have hearts. Therefore, we all have the capacity to welcome others into that inner space that constitutes a home in the deepest sense of the word. Read More

Millennial Catholics Mobilize against Trump’s Refugee Ban

Teresa Donnellan at America reports:

“All are welcome in this place,” a crowd of people sang in Lafayette Square outside of the White House this afternoon. More that 550 people gathered to attend a Mass organized by young Catholics and celebrated by Father Quinn Conners in Washington, D.C., to express their solidarity with refugees and immigrants.

The event was a result of grass-roots organization and social media promotion. After President Donald J. Trump signed an executive order banning immigrants from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, Emily Conron and her friend Christopher Hale decided to coordinate a Mass to show a Catholic response to this form of religious discrimination.

“As Catholics we understand what religious persecution is,” said Ms. Conron. “It’s part of our history. We’ve seen it in so many Catholic communities in so many countries, and we’re not willing to let history repeat itself. So we felt it was important for specifically Catholics to come together and show solidarity. And what better way to do that than in the Mass?”

At Crux, Inés San Martín writes:

“It was clear that people were aching for a way to gather and reflect and discern a path forward during these troubling times, and we were so happy that they were willing to jump into the boat with us and make this happen!” Conron said.

“Jesus was a refugee – and He was with us as we sang Be Not Afraid in front of the White House, doing our small part to show that people of faith will not be silent in the face of injustice,” she said.

Christopher Hale, from Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, was also among the organizers. He told Crux that after Sunday’s Mass, they were expecting some 1,000 people from “this organic group” to contact Speaker Paul Ryan, “the most powerful Catholic in the government.”

Jo Cox Championed Refugees, Syrians

British MP Jo Cox’s assassination has produced an outpouring of grief. It has also led many to praise her devotion to humanitarian causes and those suffering. US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power spoke at a celebration of her life earlier today:

Nobody was a stranger to Jo Cox. Survivors of rape, child soldiers, owners of small town business, and factory workers, Pakistani immigrants, and Syrian refugees. Jo Cox took their experiences to places like Westminster and the United Nations and reminded policymakers that the decisions that they – we – make can change the lives of those individuals. She made them – us – understand that that is not a burden, it’s a tremendous privilege. She “got close,” and she brought up close the struggles of people who otherwise seemed far removed. In doing so, she showed us that they were not so different from us and that they yearn for the same dignity as us and deserve the same rights.

Jo Cox was known for lamenting the absence of a moral compass in foreign policymaking. But what she may not have seen, because of her tremendous humility, was that she provided that compass. While we mourn her death, we will continue to embrace the example that she set in her life.

One of the things that made her this moral compass was her commitment to protecting people from mass atrocities. Last year she wrote:

Some may think that a military component has no place in an ethical response to Syria. We completely disagree. It is not ethical to wish away the barrel bombs from the Syrian government when you have the capacity to stop them. The deaths and fear generated by these indiscriminate air attacks are the main drivers of the refugee crisis in Europe. Nor is it ethical to watch when villages are overrun by Isis fighters who make sex slaves of children and slaughter their fellow Muslims, when we have the capability to hold them back.

What is critical in advancing any military component is that the protection of civilians must be at the centre of the mission. This objective becomes ever more imperative in the light of Russia’s bombing in recent days. We need a military component that protects civilians as a necessary prerequisite to any future UN or internationally provided safe havens. The creation of safe havens inside Syria would eventually offer sanctuary from both the actions of Assad and Isis, as we cannot focus on Isis without an equal focus on Assad. They would save lives, reduce radicalisation and help to slow down the refugee exodus.

The approach of focusing on civilian protection will also make a political solution more likely. Preventing the regime from killing civilians, and signalling intent to Russia, is far more likely to compel the regime to the negotiating table than anything currently being done or mooted. Of course, a military approach by itself won’t work, nor will any of the other components. Only through an integrated strategy with the protection of civilians at its core can we rescue something from this crisis.

Barry Andrews writes:

One of the central reasons why the five-year long conflict has been allowed to continue for so long is that not enough people of influence, not enough people like Jo Cox, were prepared to stand up and fight for the Syrian people.

From her days as an aid worker to her final hours, she routinely raised the issue of Syria, and particularly the UK and Europe’s wretched response to the crisis, the need for increased diplomacy, the lack of humanitarian access, and the creation of safe havens to protect civilians….

Still hospitals continue to be targeted, along with schools, markets, bakeries and other places where civilians gather in numbers. A week ago, an airstrike on a vegetable market in Idleb City killed more than 30 people, some of them children.

On June 10th, food aid finally reached Darayya, a suburb of Damascus, for the first time in four years. Early the following morning, only hours after the convoy left, barrel bombs were dropped there….

Jo Cox was one of a small number of brave and outspoken people who advocated on behalf of all these people; those who are in daily fear of their lives inside Syria; those left directionless on the fringes of society in Greece or other European countries; and those seeking refuge in other parts of Europe, striving to build a new life for their families, wherever that may be.

She was a vital voice at a high level. She wasn’t afraid to ask the tough questions. She was principled, determined and passionate.

She was a true humanitarian.

Pope Francis is Returning to Rome with 3 Refugee Families

via the Washington Post:

Pope Francis on Saturday took three refugee families back with him on his plane to Rome following an emotional and provocative visit to the Greek island of Lesbos that seemed designed to prick Europe’s conscience over its treatment of refugees.

The pope boarded his Alitalia jet along with 12 Syrians from three families, all of whom had had their houses bombed and are seeking refuge in Europe, according to Vatican spokesman the Rev. Thomas Rosica. There were six children among them. Rosica said the families, all of whom are Muslim, would be cared for at the Vatican.