Auxiliary Bishop Eusebio Elizondo of Seattle, chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Migration, has congratulated President-elect Donald Trump on his election, but in the same statement, offered a “special word” to migrant and refugee families, assuring the bishops’ solidarity with them.
Bishop Elizondo reiterated two key points of Catholic doctrine in his message to the president-elect: that the family must be protected and that service of the vulnerable is part of Christian identity.
In this regard, he said the bishops will work to “promote humane policies that protect refugee and immigrants’ inherent dignity, keep families together, and honor and respect the laws of this nation.”
Pope Francis discussed the issue of immigration on his return from Sweden earlier this month. While the Pope has been a strong advocate for immigrants and refugees, during the post-Sweden press conference, he underlined the responsibility of nation’s to measure their capacity to integrate immigrants. “I believe that in theory one cannot close one’s heart to a refugee, but the prudence of those who govern is also necessary,” he said. “They must be very open to receive them, but also calculate how they can settle them, because a refugee must not only be received, but he must be integrated.”
The Pope’s response was to a question about Europe’s stance on refugees from Iraq and Syria.
Here is the full text of Bishop Elizondo’s statement:
We would first like to congratulate President-elect Donald J. Trump and give our support for all efforts to work together to promote the common good, especially those to protect the most vulnerable among us. I personally pledge my prayers for Mr. Trump, all elected officials, and those who will work in the new administration. I offer a special word to migrant and refugee families living in the United States: be assured of our solidarity and continued accompaniment as you work for a better life.
We believe the family unit is the cornerstone of society, so it is vital to protect the integrity of the family. For this reason, we are reminded that behind every “statistic” is a person who is a mother, father, son, daughter, sister or brother and has dignity as a child of God. We pray that as the new administration begins its role leading our country, it will recognize the contributions of refugees and immigrants to the overall prosperity and well-being of our nation. We will work to promote humane policies that protect refugee and immigrants’ inherent dignity, keep families together, and honor and respect the laws of this nation.
Serving and welcoming people fleeing violence and conflict in various regions of the world is part of our identity as Catholics. The Church will continue this life-saving tradition. Today, with more than 65 million people forcibly displaced from their homes, the need to welcome refugees and provide freedom from persecution is more acute than ever and 80 of our dioceses across the country are eager to continue this wonderful act of accompaniment born of our Christian faith. We stand ready to work with a new administration to continue to ensure that refugees are humanely welcomed without sacrificing our security or our core values as Americans. A duty to welcome and protect newcomers, particularly refugees, is an integral part of our mission to help our neighbors in need.
We pray for President -elect Trump and all leaders in public life, that they may rise to the responsibilities entrusted to them with grace and courage. And may all of us as Catholics and Americans remain a people of solidarity with others in need and a nation of hospitality which treats others as we would like to be treated.