The Catholic community of Dayton welcomes this opportunity to join with brothers and sisters of other faith traditions in witnessing to the important value of hospitality for immigrants and refugees and to the dignity of every human life. We are grateful for the teaching of Jesus, who said, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me. Whatever you did for one of these least of mine, you did for me.”(Matthew 25:34-36) “A stranger and you welcomed me.” The wonderful urging of our Pope Francis has re-invigorated our commitment to immigrants and refugees.
This is a time of fear within our nation. Those with a radical and violent interpretation of their Islamic faith and ties to extremism abroad have committed great atrocities. These acts of terrorism occur in concert with a cacophony of other mass shooting and criminal violence and racism already in our local neighborhoods and around the world. We must respond with prayer and support for victims and their families as well as with strong security. We must not, however, allow those who terrorize to tell us what to think about almost every other Muslim nor about any community, whom they do not represent.
The Catholic Bishops of the United Sates recently made this statement: “The Gospel mandate to ‘welcome the stranger’ requires Catholics to care for and stand with newcomers, authorized and unauthorized, including unaccompanied immigrant children, refugees and asylum-seekers, those unnecessarily detained, and victims of human trafficking. Comprehensive reform is urgently necessary to fix a broken immigration system and should include a broad and fair legalization program with a path to citizenship; a work program with worker protections and just wages; family reunification policies; access to legal protections, which include due process procedures; refuge for those fleeing persecution and violence; and policies to address the root causes of migration.” (Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, #81)
The Church has also noted that refugees are highly vetted, noting that it takes 18-24 months, before they are legally permitted to enter the country.
Therefore, the Catholic community in Dayton is committed to helping refugees and immigrants of all faiths and from every continent to resettle among us. We will do this through our Catholic Social Services and other ministries. We stand in solidarity with those of other faith communities who share in this commitment. The Archdiocese of Cincinnati cherishes its relations with other faith communities; we are grateful for them. We believe that it is most necessary for all of us to put our faith into action for the sake of others, especially for those in great need.