November 16, 2015
Catholic Charities Immigration and Refugee Services has a long history of resettling families fleeing violence in their home countries. Thirty years ago the late Archbishop Philip Hannan worked to resettle Vietnamese families here, and today the Vietnamese community is a valuable part of our diverse New Orleans culture.
Today, we face new challenges as we answer the Gospel call to welcome the stranger and care for the vulnerable. Thousands of families: women, men and children are fleeing violence in the Middle East. Catholic Charities is a grantee agency that receives refugees from many parts of the world, including the Middle East, and we have recently resettled two families from the area.
In light of recent events, we take this opportunity to not only reiterate our commitment to the Gospel but also our commitment to the safety of our own families and communities. It is important for the community to know that anyone resettled through our program is referred from the United States State Department after extensive security checks and background screenings. This is not a fast process but one that can take months and even years to complete.
To date, our involvement with Syrian refugee families has been minimal, and we will prayerfully await direction and guidance from the State Department, Homeland Security and others as we work into the future.
We are reminded of the words of our Holy Father Pope Francis has he addressed Congress during his visit to our country. He said,
“A delicate balance is required to combat violence perpetrated in the name of a religion, an ideology or an economic system, while also safeguarding religious freedom, intellectual freedom and individual freedoms. But there is another temptation which we must especially guard against: the simplistic reductionism which sees only good or evil; or, if you will, the righteous and sinners. To imitate the hatred and violence of tyrants and murderers is the best way to take their place. That is something which you, as a people, reject. Our response must instead be one of hope and healing, of peace and justice.”
In closing we ask that you keep the people of Paris, all those that died, those that were injured and those that mourn and now live in fear, in your prayers. We ask you to join us in prayer for peace in our own homes, in our own communities, and in our world. Let us pray too, for all those seeking a new life and the freedom we as Americans are blessed with everyday. Know that you remain in our prayers.