Washington D.C.(EWTN News):
Archbishop Josť H. Gomez of Los Angeles emphasized the struggles
facing millions of refugees worldwide and encouraged the federal
government to continue aiding those in need, particularly given
the current instability in many parts of the world.
“I urge the U.S. government to continue to work
with us to assist refugees,” he said.
In a June 20 statement commemorating the United
Nation’s World Refugee Day, Archbishop Gomez, chairman of the
U.S. bishops’ migration committee, called attention to the
plight of “the world’s 12 million refugees.”
“Today, many nationalities are among the world’s
refugee population because of unrest and violence in their
homelands,” he explained.
These groups include Congolese, Rohingya Burmese,
Colombians and Iraqis, fleeing their native land to escape
persecution and war, he said.
The archbishop also highlighted the “refugee
crisis” that is emerging as Syrians flee the violence hitting
their country. He praised Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey for
receiving those refugees and encouraged the U.S. and the
international community to aid them as well.
“The global community, including the United
States, must continue to respond” to the needs of these people,
he said, adding that he is offering prayers for the end of
violence in Syria.
Archbishop Gomez said that he
and his fellow bishops “remain troubled by the plight of Iraqis
who have fled their country because of religious persecution.”
He urged the U.S. government “to assist the Iraqi government in
protecting them and other Iraqis who live in fear of
highlighted the fact that the work undertaken by the Church in
the U.S. to meet the refugees’ needs has been largely carried
out by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Migration and
Despite receiving excellent reviews, the group – which works
with local Catholic Charities offices throughout the country –
was recently disqualified from bidding for a federal contract to
assist human trafficking victims because it would not provide or
refer them for contraception and abortions.
The archbishop stressed the
importance of Migration and Refugee Services in resettling up to
20,000 refugees in the U.S. each year.
In addition, he said, Catholic Relief Services works to aid
refugee populations abroad.
“The Catholic Church in the
United States, through these agencies, represents the largest
private refugee resettlement organization in the world,” he
noted, adding that the Church helps “refugees of all religious
Gomez warned that the past two years have seen “a decrease in
the number of refugees being served by our U.S. refugee
“This is in
part because of additional security processes, but also because
of a lack of political will,” he explained. This means that
Iraqis who have already been accepted for the U.S. program,
including women, children and other at-risk groups, remain “in
noted the increase in the number of refugees worldwide, caused
in part by recent crises in Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Syria.
At such a critical moment,
“our nation must not pull back from its historic commitment to
the protection of refugees,” he said.
He recalled the Holy Family’s
flight to Egypt to escape the wrath of Herod, as well as
Christ’s teaching to “welcome the stranger.”
“In the face of the refugee, we see the face of
Christ,” said Archbishop Gomez. “As we celebrate World Refugee
Day, let us continue to welcome the refugee into our hearts and