Columbans Call for Welcome and Compassion in Letter to Congress
April 21, 2016
Dear Member of Congress,
As the national advocacy office representing the Missionary Society of St. Columban in the U.S. region, the Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach stands in solidarity with marginalized people whom Columban missionaries serve in 15 countries throughout the world, including the United States.
As missionary disciples of Jesus, we are called to heal, reconcile, build bridges, and create mutual understanding through prophetic dialogue. Our commitment to interculturality, interfaith dialogue, and 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.
It is through this mission to build communities of peace that we call upon members of Congress to legislate through compassion and respect rather than exclusion and fear. We urge all Members of Congress to reject proposals that separate migrant families, remove critical protections for those seeking refuge, discriminate based on religious affiliation, and criminalize our migrant brothers and sisters.
For these reasons, we join others in the faith community in unanimously opposing legislation that would roll back the vital protections for children and families provided by the bipartisan 2008 Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, and other efforts that reduce access to protection for migrants and refugees such as H.R. 4731, the “Refugee Program Integrity Restoration Act”.
We urge you to reject legislation that will adversely affect immigrant and refugee communities in your states and districts and around the world, and instead to support policies such as community-based alternatives to immigrant detention, legal representation for unaccompanied children, and protections for women, children and other vulnerable migrant groups.
In his recent, historic mass at the U.S.-Mexico border, Pope Francis called us to “weep over injustice, cry over corruption, cry over oppression” so that we may be able to live out mercy in practice and in policy. We echo Pope Francis’ appeal for “open hearts” so that we see our brothers and sisters in the faces of migrants and refugees.
Since our founding as a Catholic missionary society nearly 100 years ago, we have been called to welcome the newcomer. Columbans all over the world offer hospitality and welcome to migrants and refugees, in accordance with Scripture, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me” (Matthew 25:35). We now call upon Congress to do the same and create an atmosphere of welcome for all who seek shelter and refuge on our shores.
Director, Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach
 Missionary Society of St. Columban, General Assembly 2012