BALTIMORE - Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, Chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Committee on Migration, issued a statement on Syrian refugees during the Bishops' annual General Assembly in Baltimore Nov. 17.
Full text of the statement follows:
Statement on Syrian Refugees and the Attacks in Paris
On behalf of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Migration, I offer my deepest condolences to the families of the victims of the November 13 attacks in Paris, France and to the French people. I add my voice to all those condemning these attacks and my support to all who are working to ensure such attacks do not occur again—both in France and around the world.
I am disturbed, however, by calls from both federal and state officials for an end to the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the United States. These refugees are fleeing terror themselves—violence like we have witnessed in Paris. They are extremely vulnerable families, women, and children who are fleeing for their lives. We cannot and should not blame them for the actions of a terrorist organization.
Moreover, refugees to this country must pass security checks and multiple interviews before entering the United States—more than any arrival to the United States. It can take up to two years for a refugee to pass through the whole vetting process. We can look at strengthening the already stringent screening program, but we should continue to welcome those in desperate need.
Instead of using this tragedy to scapegoat all refugees, I call upon our public officials to work together to end the Syrian conflict peacefully so the close to 4 million Syrian refugees can return to their country and rebuild their homes. Until that goal is achieved, we must work with the world community to provide safe haven to vulnerable and deserving refugees who are simply attempting to survive. As a great nation, the United States must show leadership during this crisis and bring nations together to protect those in danger and bring an end to the conflicts in the Middle East.