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.”



Pope Francis Hosts Lunch with Syrian Refugees

via Vatican Radio:

Pope Francis had lunch with a group of 21 Syrian refugees on Thursday at the Casa Santa Marta.

During the luncheon, both adults and children had the possibility to speak with Pope Francis about the beginnings of their life in Italy.

The children gave the Holy Father a collection of their drawings, and the Pope showered them with toys and other gifts.

The refugees, who live in Rome and are hosted by the St. Egidio Community, were brought to Rome from Lesbos by Pope Francis at the conclusion of his visit to the Greek island on 16 April 2016.


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.


Pope Francis Will Travel to Lesbos, Express Solidarity with Refugees

via Vatican Insider:

“On Saturday I am going to Lesbos, where numerous refugees have passed through over the months. I am going along with my brothers the Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew and the Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Ieronymos”, “to express sympathy and solidarity with refugees and the citizens of Lesbos and all the Greek people who are so generous in their welcome. Accompany me with your prayer please, invoking the light and strength of the Holy Spirit and the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary.”