Pope Francis’ call to host Refugees contrasts w/ anti-Immigrant US “Religious Right”

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

Not all American Christian leaders have covered themselves in glory when it comes to the issue of Syrian refugees being accepted by the US ( not many are). Evangelist Franklin Graham sees these refugees as a security threat because many of them are Muslim (though there are lots of kinds of Islam in Syria, and some 5% are Christian). Sen. Rand Paul, who mixes some evangelicalism into his libertarianism, has expressed similar sentiments. And, of course, GOP frontrunner Donald Trump has shouted himself blue in the face about the alleged danger of Middle Eastern and other immigrants coming to the US; while he is not on the religious Right, he tries to please that wing of the party.

It seems to me that there is a real question as to whether any of those who speak in such hateful ways are actually Christian at all.

In an astonishing show of solidarity with the refugees thronging into Europe, on Sunday Pope Francis called on European parishes and other Catholic institutions to take in a refugee family each. He said,

“”May Every parish, every religious community, every monastery, every sanctuary of Europe, take in one family.”

He made the call during his weekly Sunday Angelus address, held at noon, which ends with the recitation of the devotion beginning with the verse “the Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary . . .” in commemoration of the mystery of the incarnation.

He reminded the faithful of the upcoming Jubilee Year of Mercy in this regard.

Pope Francis said,

“Before the tragedy of tens of thousands of refugees fleeing death in conflict and hunger and are on a journey of hope, the Gospel . . . calls us to be close to the smallest and to those who have been abandoned”.

Father Federico Lombardi SJ, Director of the Vatican Press Office, explained that Pope Francis wants his call to reach the “whole of Europe” and not just a few localities. Moreover, he is asking that Catholic communities take the lead in welcoming the refugees during this crisis point, engaging in “concrete works of charity” and not just “organizational or logistic preparations”. Moreover, Father Lombardi said, the Pope is calling on entire parish communities to implement this instruction, not just on the priests.

The immediate need is for resettling 160,000 refugees. Italy alone has 25,000 parishes, and if each family had five members and each parish took one in, that would take care of 125,000 right there. Of course, it is not clear how many parishes will rise to the pope’s challenge, and the European Union will play a role in deciding how the refugees will be distributed.

Most of the refugees are Muslims, and right wing Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said last week that because of resentments over the legacy of the Ottoman Empire (which ruled much of eastern Europe), his country could not take any Muslim refugees. The major religion in Hungary is Catholicism, however, and Pope Francis (a man of the New World) clearly is pushing back against European Christian nativism of that sort, which is pretty ugly.

People forget when discussing the story of the Good Samaritan as told by Jesus that Samaritans belonged to a separate but related religion from Judaism (Samaritanism), so the help the Samaritan offered was being given to a Jewish outsider, not a coreligionist:

‘Luke 10:25-37, Revised Standard Version (RSV)
The Parable of the Good Samaritan

25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read?” 27 And he answered, “You shall 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 your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered right; do this, and you will live.”

29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion, 34 and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii[a] and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed mercy on him.” And Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.” ‘

The Muslims are the victims in the parable of the good Samaritan in today’s Europe; will its Christians step up to Jesus’ challenge?

Pope Francis instead referred to the story of Jesus healing the deaf and mute man, which he said symbolized the human inability to understand the word of God, which I take to be his slam against the anti-immigrant right wing.

Radio Vatican explained, “Jesus healed the man and – the Pope said – “unblocked” his capacity to enter into communication with others and with God. This story – he explained – speaks of us because we too are often inaccessible and closed within ourselves.”

I think Viktor Orban and Franklin Graham just got pwned.

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Related video added by Juan Cole:

Euronews: “Pope calls on every parish in Europe to take in one migrant family each”

19 Responses

  1. The Pope has always been one of the leading voices against birth control. Given the youthful and expanding population of the Middle East, the frustration of Arab youth as they enter stagnant economies and the fracture of societies based on religion, it appears the Pope is amongst those causing rather fixing the problem.

    • The present disaster in ME is not a result of ‘birth control’ but the result of American policies, invasions, CIA -like secret ops etc.

  2. I’ve never been able to understand what the adjective is doing in the term ‘Christian Right.’ Their policy proposals foreign and domestic have nothing to do with Christianity.

  3. Joyce Davis

    There is no call among Republican candidates for America to step up and accept a substantial number of Syrian refugees.

  4. “It seems to me that there is a real question as to whether any of those who speak in such hateful ways are actually Christian at all.”

    Oh, we’re Christian, alright.
    Recall that being a hypocrite, being a sinner, is part and parcel of that package called “Christian.”

    I’m not an authority on most aspects of Catholic doctrine and magesterium,
    but I know that you missed in your analysis when you compared today’s Muslims to the good Samaritan of scripture.
    The better analogy might be seeing the Muslims as lepers: Helpless, rejected, vulnerable, dependent.
    Maybe someone smarter than me can cite some passages on that.

    Juan, an earlier blog entry suggested these were “regime change” refugees.
    I have repeatedly tried to argue here that the US government was instrumental in turning peaceful protests in Syria into violent suppression, usually only citing sources like PressTV and RT. You seem to allow those posts more, suggesting a recognition that we might have played a role.
    If so, that makes the USA the engine behind all of the attempts at regime change that have destroyed societies, forcing these refugees to flee to Europe.
    .
    so why does Pope Frank let American Catholics off the hook ?
    .

    • the US had nothing to do with the turn to violence in Syria. It was Bashar’s and Maher’s decision to shell the protesters. PressTv & RT are full of conspiracy theories on this issue because they support the genocidal Bashar and need a scapegoat.

      • But would it not be fair to say that once the trouble started the US and its allies (France, UK, Saudi Arabia, etc.) joined in on the brawl and made matters much worse?

        “Turning the Cradle of Civilization Into its Graveyard” by Diana Johnstone- link to counterpunch.org … “Western leaders share major responsibility for making much of the world unfit for normal human habitation.”

        • No, the Europeans didn’t make it much worse. The Gulfies took sides in the budding war that Bashar started, and then Russia and Iran took the other side. Can’t see that it had anything to do with the French or British at all, and Obama has bearely gotten his toes wet in those waters. The issue is one of proportionality.

          Mostly, it was indigenous. If 22 million people want to have a brawl, there’s not much that can be done about it.

        • In 08/19/11, you wrote a column titled “Obama demands Regime Change in Syria.” Last time I checked, “regime changes” across the middle east have not been peaceful events (Iraq and Libya). It is difficult to resolve your comment above with the earlier post.

          In the case of Iraq, US troops were needed to overthrow Saddam. In the case of Libya, had it not been for NATO strikes and logistic support, Qaddafi would likely not have been overthrown so violently. In the case of Syria, had we told Saudi Arabia and Turkey not to funnel weapons and money to terrorist groups to Syria and Iraq, this conflict would have come to a diplomatic resolutions years ago. Instead, nearly four years into this conflict, there appears to be no end in sight. If people care about the refugees (which they should), they should insist upon negotiations tomorrow (without preconditions). I only hope next year we aren’t writing about the same misery.

          We hold considerable sway over Saudi Arabia and Turkey. After nearly four years of conflict in Syria has any external country gained anything? Turkey’s ruling party probably lost some seats due to their policy in Syria. Saudi Arabia has only spent money for nothing, and probably only caused further instability (at home). Iran and Russia have not lost a patron or geographic access, and, yet, they are on the same side as USA in Iraq. If we really wanted to, we could do a lot more to stop the conflict in Yemen and stop the carnage in Syria. Instead, our dubious calculations prevent us from making a horrific situation even more catastrophic.

      • In 08/19/11, you wrote a column titled “Obama demands Regime Change in Syria.” Last time I checked, “regime changes” across the middle east have not been peaceful events (Iraq and Libya). It is difficult to resolve your comment above with the earlier post.

        In the case of Iraq, US troops were needed to overthrow Saddam. In the case of Libya, had it not been for NATO strikes and logistic support, Qaddafi would likely not have been overthrown so violently. In the case of Syria, had we told Saudi Arabia and Turkey not to funnel weapons and money to terrorist groups to Syria and Iraq, this conflict would have come to a diplomatic resolutions years ago. Instead, nearly four years into this conflict, there appears to be no end in sight. If people care about the refugees (which they should), they should insist upon negotiations tomorrow (without preconditions). I only hope next year we aren’t writing about the same misery.

        We hold sway Saudi Arabia and Turkey. After nearly four years of conflict in Syria has any external country gained anything? Turkey’s ruling party probably lost some seats due to their policy in Syria. Saudi Arabia has only spent money for nothing, and probably only caused further instability (at home). Iran and Russia have not lost a patron or geographic access, and, yet, they are on the same side as USA in Iraq. If we really wanted to, we could do a lot more to stop the conflict in Yemen and stop the carnage in Syria. Instead, our dubious calculations prevent us from making a horrific situation even more catastrophic.

    • Brian, RT is not an objective news source (more like a smarter FOX News with a very different agenda). RT is an outlet of the Russian government. The coverage of the Ukraine crisis clearly shows this. RT reports need to be carefully scrutinized.

  5. Christian, like liberal, conservative and other labels, has evolved to mean almost anything and consequently nothing. Among the more astonishing aspects of the refugee crisis is the apparent ignorance of many people in the United States and in western Europe and the indifference of their leaders and would-be leaders to the causes of so many millions of people being displaced. Support of a right-wing coup in Honduras and wars throughout the Middle East, North Africa and Afghanistan. Nevertheless, our neocons and other warmongers call for more war. Kind of evokes thoughts of Einstein’s definition of insanity.

  6. The Pope makes a lot of very soothing noises, but I’m not sure it will amount to any real reform. It’s a massive, ancient mob; very tough to change.

    A good outcome would be to split those Catholic “Reagan Democrats” away from the Republican wingnut fundamentalists.

    The fundies have always hated the Catholics, but have kept that quiet to advance their own agenda.

    It could be a nice messy divorce.

  7. Drastic times require drastic solutions. Will PRESIDENT OBAMA, Clinton, or Sanders be so bold to oppose big money, Wall Street, and the Republicans to unilaterally eradicate global poverty by creating a United Nations and World Bank Basic Guaranteed Income raising 1.2 billion out of extreme poverty living on less than $1.25 a day?

    Truth Bomb: Refugees, Immigrants, and Migrants. The US is responsible for much of the world hunger and could easily Eradicate Global Hunger. It would cost less than $169 billion to totally eradicate extreme global poverty. It would take a small fraction of the extreme trillion dollar fraud and abuses of the Pentagon losing $8.5 trillion, the Federal Reserve giving trillions to foreign banks and corporations, and the US lawmakers giving trillions to the rich and corporations, especially the $5.2 trillion to Fossil Fuel Industries Give A Global Guaranteed Basic Income so people don’t have to flee their countries to live, or young men don’t have to fight as the only job left to feed their families. It is time to change “Endless War Doctrine” with “Feed the world”!
    How Much Money Would it Take to Eliminate Global Poverty? link to truth-out.org
    EXCUSES!
    Refugees Who Could Be Us link to nytimes.com
    Many Obstacles Are Seen to U.S. Taking in Large Number of Syrian Refugees link to nytimes.com
    We asked all 22 presidential candidates to define a US refugee policy. Few had clear answers link to theguardian.com
    Here’s why rich Arab Gulf states won’t welcome Syrian refugees
    Read more: link to businessinsider.com
    COMPARED TO TRILLIONS LOST IN FRAUD AND ABUSE – it is heinous that the US does not give the $169 billion needed to save the world.
    1. The Pentagon Corporate War Machine loses $8.5 trillion dollars. link to finance.yahoo.com
    2. The Federal Reserve Audit shows trillions spent on foreign banks and corporations without authorization from Congress or the President. link to sanders.senate.gov
    3. Republicans refuse to close the $5.3 Trillion in global Oil Subsidies. link to politicususa.com
    TRUTH BOMB – A fact spoken in clear, easy to understand terms and without bias. Please copy and paste freely. link to facebook.com

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