Pope Francis took time out on Sunday to make a powerful intervention into the migration crisis. The Pontiff sent a reminder to Republicans that real Christians deal with immigration with human compassion.
As tens of thousands of worshippers filled St. Peter’s square in Vatican City, Rome, the Pope made his traditional Sunday blessing. But he chose this moment, with the whole Christian world watching, to remind us of our human responsibility to help those who require it.
“I ask the countries of the region to generously resume efforts to find a quick solution to this humanitarian drama,” he said.
Gang violence, corruption and economic instability are driving a refugee crisis across Central America, according to the UNHCR (UN Refugee Agency). Violence and poverty are creating an exodus of primarily women and children from The Northern Triangle Region (El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala), Nicaragua, Cuba and Mexico.
In a report released in October this year, Antonio Guterres, the head of the UNHCR, said:
“With authorities often unable to curb the violence and provide redress, many vulnerable women are left with no choice but to run for their lives,”
The report also contained some stories from these women, escaping for their lives. As The Guardian reports:
One 17-year-old Salvadorean girl called Norma says she was gang raped by three members of the notorious M18 gang in a cemetery in late 2014. She said she was targeted because she was married to a police officer.
“They took their turns … they tied me by the hands. They stuffed my mouth so I would not scream,” Norma is quoted as saying in the report. Then “they threw me in the trash”.
This is the horror that Central American refugees are facing. Yet, when these traumatized travelers arrive on US shores, they are greeted not to safe harbor, but ruthless condemnation.
The Parable of the Good Samaritan is the clearest possible instruction to Christians of the danger of mistaking piety for goodness. All the prayers in the world mean nothing if a person cannot open their doors, and their hearts, to those in need.
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Unfortunately, it appears that the Republican lawmakers, so avowedly pious, seemed to miss a few Bible study classes.
GOP Presidential front runner Donald Trump would deport Norma and her fellow immigrants back to the horrors the fled, then build a giant wall preventing them from ever seeking our help again. His closest current contender, Ted Cruz, would follow the same path — ending routes for illegal immigrants to become citizens, and putting “boots on the ground” (military) at the borders. The whole narrative of the conservative media and political class is that migrants are dangerous, lazy, disease-ridden, national security risks that America should erect the highest barriers to exclude. Not only is this contrary to Christian morality, it is contrary to the entire premise of this nation of immigrants, and the message of Lady Liberty:
“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” reads the plinth at feet of the Statue of Liberty. It is taken from Emma Lazarus’ sonnet, New Colossus. The poem itself, continues:
“The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
The reminders are all around that the Republican Party has lost its way on immigration. There is nothing Christian about slamming the door in the face of desperate human beings.
Featured Image via Flickr Creative Commons