Below is the official statement from Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend:
The Church stands firm in its commitment to the defense of the life and dignity of the human person and to the promotion of the common good. Just last week, I joined over 1,000 young people from our diocese at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., where we publicly witnessed to the dignity of the unborn child. It was a joy to bear witness to the Gospel of Life.
Our commitment to the Gospel of Life also includes the defense of the lives of so many innocent people who are victims of violence, war, religious persecution, and terrorism. The number of refugees in the world today, persons who have had to flee their homes because their lives are in danger, is staggering. The Church has been a leading agent in caring for and helping refugees, include resettling so many men, women, and children in our country. I am proud of the excellent work of our own diocesan Catholic Charities in this area of service to these “least of our brothers and sisters.”
I am saddened by the Executive Order of our president which suspends the entry of refugees into our country for 120 days, which indefinitely stops the admission of Syrian refugees, and which bars people from seven predominantly Muslim countries for 90 days. Many refugees are fleeing from ISIS and other extremists. They are victims and are looking for safety. Many are children. I cannot imagine what it must be like for a father or mother to be in such desperate straits, only desiring the safety and wellbeing of their family.
Clearly our government has a responsibility to protect the safety and security of the United States. Certainly we must be vigilant lest terrorists infiltrate the refugee population. But, as many attest, including our Church agencies involved in refugee settlement, the U.S. is already using a thorough vetting process for refugees, especially those from Syria and surrounding countries. Fear should not lead us to forsake the innocent, of whatever nation or religion, whose lives are in danger.
We must remember the criteria by which Jesus said we will be judged, including whether or not we welcomed the stranger among us. “I was a stranger, and you welcomed me,” Jesus said, in the parable of the last judgment, to those granted entry into His Kingdom. “I was a stranger and you gave me no welcome,” Jesus said to those who were sent to eternal punishment.
Finally, it is important to keep in mind our responsibility to work for and promote the common good. The common good is not only the good of our nation, but also the good of the human family, the universal common good. Our brothers and sisters in the human family who are refugees are crying out for our compassion and love. Let us pray fervently for refugees, for their safety, and for a renewed openness in our country to welcoming these brothers and sisters in need.