In the Wake of Attacks in Paris, Beirut and Baghdad

We Urge Justice and Compassion, Not Vengeance and Hatred

The Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach joins with people of all religious traditions to condemn the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, Beirut and Baghdad, and offer our deepest condolences to the families of the victims and survivors. We pray for an end to the senseless violence in Syria, which has claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people these past four years.

For many years now, and in many countries, Columbans have worked with migrants and refugees, offering them hospitality and assistance as they seek to build a new life in a foreign country. In the United States, the Columban Mission Center in El Paso, TX has welcomed unaccompanied minors and migrants fleeing the violence in Central America and Mexico, while the Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach in Washington DC continues to work for comprehensive immigration reform.

In recent months, hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees have fled the violence in their home to seek refuge in Europe. They should not be punished for the acts of terrorists who have taken advantage of the refugee route to commit heinous crimes in other nations. We urge our political leaders and fellow citizens in all nations to open their hearts and borders to the millions of Syrian refugees who have fled their homes in search of safety and asylum.

The refugees are not our enemy: they are our sisters and brothers, families with children, people like us who seek safety and shelter in a time of crisis.

These refugees are victims of the same terrorist violence that killed hundreds of innocent people this past weekend. We must respond to them with justice and compassion, not vengeance and hatred. We must bring to justice those who committed these heinous crimes, but let us also welcome their victims with compassion.

And let us not forget so soon the message of Pope Francis on his recent visit to the United States, when he reminded us:

“Our world is facing a refugee crisis of a magnitude not seen since the Second World War. This presents us with great challenges and many hard decisions.”

“All too often, those most in need of our help are unable to be heard. You are their voice, and many of you have faithfully made their cry heard.”

“In this witness, which frequently encounters powerful resistance, you remind American democracy of the ideals for which it was founded, and that society is weakened whenever and wherever injustice prevails.”

We urge our fellow citizens, religious and political leaders alike, to not turn our backs on the Syrian refugees.

Since the beginning of the conflict, nearly 12 million Syrians have fled their homes.

This amounts to nearly half of the country’s population, who are now deprived of their basic rights to shelter and adequate housing, security and human dignity. More than 4 million people, most of them women and children, are staying in neighboring countries, and a further 8 million people are believed to be internally displaced.

We urge President Obama and the leaders of Congress to not close our doors to the Syrian refugees. Now more than ever they need our support. Let us respond with justice and compassion.

Ending the war and saving lives must be our top priority. To that end, a return to internationally mediated negotiations is imperative in order to pursue a political transition to a free and democratic state.

But while the war continues, and refugees flee their homes to protect their lives and the lives of their families, we must not turn them away from our borders, or punish them for the acts of the very terrorists from whom they are fleeing.

Remember, as Pope Francis reminded us, we too were once foreigners in a foreign land. Let us not be afraid to respond with justice and compassion.

Rev. Timothy Mulroy, SSC
U.S. Regional Director
Missionary Society of St. Columban

The Missionary Society of St. Columban is a Catholic missionary order founded in 1918.

“As missionary disciples of Jesus, we are called to heal, reconcile, build bridges, and create mutual understanding through prophetic dialogue. Our commitment to inter-cultural and inter-faith dialogue, solidarity with marginalized people and the exploited earth are ways we participate in God’s mission. Our proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus challenges us to build communities of peace.”