Pope Francis is urging Catholics all over Europe to take in refugees if they are able. The Vatican will be taking in two families as well.
If the Pope is urging Catholics do this throughout Europe, why aren't Americans being encouraged to do the same? It may be cost prohibitive in regards to travel and logistics, but shouldn’t we be ready and willing anyway?
On Sunday, the Pope said:
“Faced with the tragedy of tens of thousands of refugees who flee death from war or hunger, on a journey towards the hope of life, the Gospel calls to us and asks us to be close to them, to the smallest and the abandoned; to give them real hope. Not merely to say; 'be brave, be patient'. Christian hope is assertive, with the tenacity of those who go towards a certain destination”.
Can’t we organize an effort to help them? Certainly the airlines can transport refugees - or our own military planes can step in to facilitate this.
The Pope is preparing for, what Catholics call, The Holy Year of Mercy, and the implementation of some radical changes in the Catholic Church. Although some suggest this a PR move on his part, only the result matters. If it drives good, so be it. As long as they have their basic human needs.
I'm suggesting all of us to take in a family simply because we can. Not for the glory, not for the acceptance, or to be perceived as good people. Let's do it for one reason. Because its the right thing to do. Because its who we are.
Growing up, my father often brought home people who needed help. Sometimes they were drunk seamen picked up by the NYPD on the streets of New York during furlough from their Norwegian ship, other times it was rescued or surviving sailors from ships that went down, and sometimes it was families who had a tragedy strike while away from home. This was before the days of cell phones and the web. Us kids got the bedding out, and gave them our rooms. We were happy to sleep on the floor if need be.
But we didn’t just help them. Others had helped us too. My father came to America as an immigrant on a freight ship, not an ocean liner. He went underground and hid Jews in the hills of Norway while occupied by the Nazis and risked his life to get them to safety until the danger passed. When the war ended, he testified against Nazi sympathizers from his own town in Oslo’s high court. Afterwards, he boarded a freighter for America’s shores to escape the negativity he might endure by remaining in Norway in the war’s aftermath. In this case, America welcomed him.
Being a welcome station for those without homes or dreams is what built this country. Hope fuels this national engine. Hope fuels all human engines. Hope and vision - the kind that comes alive in people when they are given a chance, ultimately drives and sustains the creative and compassionate side of humanity. Without it, we can easily turn stale and static. These values create more generosity and keeps it moving forward. Your children's dreams are born from it too.
Why don’t we all take stock and do an inventory to determine whether we can take in a family? Or help in other ways. Maybe we can mobilize an organized effort that makes a difference in the United States. It seems an incredible opportunity to do some good beyond our borders. Won’t you share your thoughts and ideas? We can’t just sit here doing nothing…that’s not who we are at all.
Peace to your house,
Image:image via wikimedia commons