Syrian Refugee Crisis and Our Christian Duty

saint peter, fisherman, st peter, peter, faith

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After the Paris attacks and subsequent uncovered threats and deterred attacks throughout the rest of Europe, it is no wonder that people are filled with fear. It is not an unfounded fear or irrational fear. It is a fear based in reality, a legitimate fear: a reaction to a very real, very dangerous, and very serious threat. There has not been this fear of Islamic terrorists since the September 11th attacks, but when numerous violent attacks are carried out in a place so similar to our home, it is hard to not look at ourselves and immediately have the desire to protect our homeland. This desire is a basic instinct, but it extends further than that. It is our Christian duty to protect our homeland, to protect our families, and to protect our neighbors. The question is not being raised as to whether we need to protect our home, but rather how to protect it. Moreover, how do we live out our Christian obligations that sometimes seem at odds with each other as seen in the debate over whether to admit Syrian refugees into our homeland? On the one hand, we have a duty to help, in whatever capacity, our brothers and sisters in the international community. However, we also have an obligation to protect our families at home. At times, it seems nearly impossible to fulfill both obligations, as there are real and legitimate life-threatening risks associated with bringing refugees here.

Do we bring legitimate Syrian refugees into our country and run the risk of allowing terrorists to also enter? Or do we close our borders entirely, thereby eliminating the risk of terrorists crossing our border under the guise of being a refugee but also ignoring our Christian duties to help those in most need?

As Christians, we have a duty to the common good, giving dignity to each individual and providing the social conditions necessary “for people, either in groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfilment more fully and more easily” (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church 164 ). Ensuring the common good is intricately linked to the principle of solidarity, which requires that all individuals work to make life liveable for all individuals. This principle encompasses a larger meaning of the common good (economic and environmental for example), but the focus here will remain on the peace and security of all members of society. It is the responsibility of each country’s government to ensure the common good, guaranteeing peace, unity, and safety or security. As individuals, we have a responsibility to participate in promoting the common good of society, including those of other countries. This is also known as providing for the universal good. The universal good calls for the international community to provide for the needs of all individuals, particularly those who live in misery, such as refugees fleeing war-torn areas. But in what capacity? How do we balance the duty to protect one’s own society and that of the international community?

In order to answer this question, one must first accept the premise that our Christian duties are prioritized. We have an obligation first to our family, then to the larger community and country, and then to the international community. We must first take care of those people for which we have a personal responsibility for: the family (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1914).

The family is understood as the first natural society and is at the center of society, being a divine institution standing at the “foundation of life of the human person as the prototype of every social order” (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church 211). As such, we have a foremost duty to protect our children, brothers and sisters, and parents. Since our families are part of a larger society, we then have an obligation to protect our neighbor, but not at the expense of first protecting our family (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2212). Therefore, security is first due to our family, then our neighbor and our country, and then to our brothers and sisters in the international community. Without securing first our family and homeland, we cannot possibly guarantee the security of those from the international family.

This is what our politicians, particularly President Obama, needs to understand. If we allow thousands of Syrian refugees to cross the border, without properly vetting them, we open up the possibility that terrorists posing as refugees will slip through and pose not only imminent danger to our community but the refugees that we have promised security and safety to by permitting them to enter the country. Currently, we don’t have the necessary resources to vet and properly ensure that a large number of refugees admitted to the country are not terrorists. After all, we can’t even ensure that the thousands of immigrants illegally crossing the border everyday are not criminals. This is not to assume that immigrants and refugees are terrorists and criminals. However, we have the duty to do our due diligence in vetting all individuals entering the country, just as we have the duty to do so when allowing people into our homes. Just as we would not allow just anyone into our homes, we should not and cannot allow just anybody into our country without first ensuring that they pose no danger.

Allowing thousands of refugees into the country without being able to properly vet each one would be telling these refugees that we could provide a safe environment for them along with our citizens. However, in actuality we cannot keep such promises while the threat of terrorists posing as refugees remains real and we do not do everything in our power to prevent such individuals from entering the country. It’s not too far-fetched to think that terrorists would take advantage of this and pose as refugees.

Many American citizens and leaders are against allowing refugees into the country for this very reason. Most are not against Syrian refugees because they are Muslim or Syrian, but because they are not being assured by our leaders that we can keep the terrorists out or catch those terrorists posing as refugees. This is not an illegitimate fear. We need to recognize that this fear is born out of a concern for one’s own safety and the safety of the family and larger community.

During a time when words such as “compromise” and “bi-partisan” are thrown around by our politicians and presidential candidates, neither “side” is assuring the American people that their fears are legitimate and that there are ways to meet those fears as well as follow through on our Christian duty to the international community. The result might be to lower the numbers of refugees we allow in the country substantially, but in doing so we can more truly assure the security of the citizens (the government’s first and foremost priority) as well as the security of those legitimate refugees fleeing the war-torn Middle East.

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42 thoughts on “Syrian Refugee Crisis and Our Christian Duty”

  1. Agree, but what the San Bernardino incident 12/2 shows us is that even if we vet people, those who grow up here with all the country has to offer, still develop a disdain for our country & become radicalized in the name of the Muslim religion. I don’t know if there is a right answer to this. I would feel better if the Obama administration would allow more Christian refugees in rather than Muslim families as we are seeing in our own Diocese.

  2. Half? Less than half of the able bodied Americans that can work – do work. Largess is expensive. Compassion has a price tag (usually someone else’s dime).

  3. The influx of many people with a propensity for anti-Christian beliefs is a danger in itself. Put aside the issue of whether there are terrorists within the groups of refugees, which are few (but real and dangerous), and consider whether we want masses of people from a religion who believe that killing those who are not of their faith is a wise thing to do. Using the word “refugee” to describe all of these people is a misnomer. It appears that most are seeking better economic conditions and are not in fear for their lives. Except, of course, for Christians from these regions who are killed daily because of their Christianity, and who are mostly ignored. Unlike secular governments, the first cause for the Christian must be to fight that Christ through his church may save souls. It is insane to let these people in and then figure out what to do with them after the fact.

    1. Allan – yet another racist, bigoted post. Your hate list is very long. Not good for a neo-trad conservative who claims to live Gospel values. Do you belong to the same church as your good friend “the Donald”? He must be your mentor because you sound as hate-filled. Keep falsely claiming you’re a Christian while spewing hatred.
      Sad, really.

    2. It’s time for you to shut up. CRISIS rag, Church Militant fanatic, Trump idolater sicko – bizarre beyond belief. lol ;-{)

  4. The big problem with Islam is Islam. These fundamentalist terrorists are simply following the words of the Koran AND Mohammed’s example. This is why they will kill those muslims who choose to ignore all those verses about subjugating the world to Islam.

    Already we have in this country muslims, some of them born here of muslim parents, too many of whom will brook no criticism at all of Islam or Mohammed. If you can’t talk about this honestly, then that means at the least, these muslims are hiding their heads in the sand and at the worst, secretly agree with what the fundamentalist muslims are doing.

    Islam and Christianity are not the same in any way. And this is true since islam’s inception. I have no problems taking in Syrian Christians. But Syrian muslims, I think it safer for the West and Christians that these muslims be taken in by muslim countries. Charity towards their own IS supposed to be one of the pillars of their religion.

    And btw: the 5 richest muslim nations have NOT taken in any Syrian refugees. Know why? They are afraid of terrorists hiding among them AND they are afraid of the regular Syrian muslims becoming fundamentalist and committing acts of terror in those lands.

    Not an ringing endorsement of taking in Syrian refugees, is it?

    1. ? France, one epicenter of recent terrorism, has committed to take in 30,000 more refugees while the US right wing cowers in fear, a fear that paralyzes … Christ welcomed all homeless without extensive vetting…If people claim that the US is a Christian nation…..act like one….we are not afraid !

      https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2015/11/18/france-says-it-will-take-30000-syrian-refugees-while-u-s-republicans-would-turn-them-away/

    2. Where do you live lol? If you’re in Montana, you shouldn’t be worried. And tell us where we can find Christ welcoming the homeless from violent non Jewish countries.

    3. Just because the French want to act stupidly does not mean that we need to follow them over the cliff as well.

      Sorry, but Christian duty is FIRST to the safety of family, then nation, then others outside. We owe no help to those who are bent on our destruction. You will not find such a command from God in the Bible. Even the early Church took care of their OWN widows and orphans, not pagan ones or Jewish ones.

      Christians could certainly help raise funds so refugees in muslim refugee camps in muslim lands will have adequate food, clothing and shelter. Other than that, it is high time that muslims take care of this problem. Then the terrorists will be their problem and not ours and THEN maybe something will be done about them. As long as muslims in muslim lands can push them off on non-muslims, they have no motivation to take care of the problem.

      Unless infiltrating the West is EXACTLY what they want.

    4. The safety of the family is not provided for through fear…it is provided for by a confidence that we will be cared for. The French are an example for right wing xenophobes…always return to the Gospel Matt 25….remember the homeless and remember that what you do for them you do for Christ…He did not say shelter the homeless unless they are Muslims or Syrians…also talked about loving those who hate you. Why do we discard the Gospel when it is convenient…..

    5. As a Christian I can take care of that duty by sending aid to refugee camps over there in muslim nations. So the Syrians can be kept closer to their own country and be ready to return when the war is over. Or remain in muslim lands.

      Nowhere does Jesus say we have to invite them into our homes (or state, or country) in order to fulfill the duty.

    6. Adam, you come home from work and your wife is being attacked by a large muscular man, what would you do in line with Matthew 25.

    7. Quite a silly question….Matt 25 (Sheep and Goats Parable) speaks to caring for the marginalized ….it does not speak to self-defense or defense of family. Jesus never talked about this directly because it is evolutionary clan protection from imminent danger. Note the twist direct imminent danger … not a possible, remote danger caused by fearmongering right wing factions. A direct threat is not a lingering irrational fear … sure, I would defend my wife and child against a direct action. Most direct actions in the US have been by white Christian extremists of whom I fear more than a Syrian refugee. I try to deal with my fears as fears poison the soul.

    8. Silly but you really avoided part of it…he’s large and muscular…you’re probably going to have to kill him to stop him at all. Think it through beforehand or you won’t have a wife. Controlled fear is how Holly Holm defeated Ronda Rousey last weekend in the UFC and how I defeated a street thug 2 years ago on the street after he left my home with a bag of goods as I arrived home which included a weapon i had to retrieve….done…I’m the large muscular man lol.

    9. Silly, but I did read well…In case of an attack on my wife or kids by a muscular (large) person or a diminutive person with a weapon…sure I would blow the person off the face of the earth. The difference you avoided is (1) an imminent, direct attack vs (2) a perceived, distantly possible threat based upon xenophobia. I am glad you are muscular, but you pose no threat to me nor my family (as far as I can tell) so I would offer you a place to stay if needed.

    10. Adam,
      I live on the NY harbor. This is where 3000 people were killed and tomorrow hundreds could be killed by similar islamists. And you could be reading about it tomorrow. There is no distant danger of islam here. It’s a daily possible because NYC is iconic to ISIS which has threatened both DC and NY. 95% of US people live outside the iconic cities and for them and you, this will always be distant unless the plane bombings continue.

    11. ….and Elijah is a Muslim name? Elijah In Arabic : العجه
      Fear, my friend, as I always says is the poison of the soul…do not be afraid even in NY’s harbor….you are a neighbor to many of my relatives who live there also but not in fear…blessings!

    12. Watch the Holm/ Rousey fight. I’ve been in ten dangerous fights on the streets of NY harbor. Holly Holm taught me to be more fearful. Best fight I’ve seen from the healthy fear aspect. She had one thought…Ronda is not getting an armbar and breaking my elbow. Holly fled then attacked…fled then attacked.
      I call her the ” bus driver “…. because she took me to school.

    13. None of us know one another. Anyone addressing an adversary in a debate or a knife fight is a liar. You have no friends here that I have seen so far.

    14. They are not our homeless – they need to be supported by the top five wealthiest Muslim nations shirking their duty. This is a Muslim problem.

      We have a duty to care of our own poor and homeless; they are here. But we do NOT have a duty to take Muslims from lands closer to those Muslim nations I just referenced.

      You have a lot of nerve high-jacking the name Aquinas; he writes convincingly and in detail as to why we do not have an obligation to Muslims. He also writes convincingly that if those in need are bent on destroying us, we need not help them at all.

      I just finished playing with the children in another combox making the same asinine arguments you are here. You certainly completed your progressive brainwashing courses quite well, and you learned all about faux mercy..

      With apologies to Steely Dan: Fools to the Left of me, fools to the Left of me…
      :

    15. You must think you have big gonads to accuse folks here of fear. The reality is that the rest of us opposed to taking Muslims know more about the realities of Islam than you do. Your “smart” comments reveal the depth of your ignorance about the nature and extent of the threat.

      To allow entry across our borders to those bent on changing our nation into their own image and likeness is gross stupidity – NOT fear. Also, we have no reason to trust the inveterate liar Obama, and even less reason to trust the vetting process of 1) the U.N. and 2) the U.S. State Dept.

      That’s not fear, either. That’s just plain smart.

  5. This column is pure Islamophobia and xenophobia. Why do states declare that they will take no Syrian refugees? It is in fact unconstitutional for a state to make such decisions. Why do we need to protect our families from Syrian refugees? Are we fearful? We are Americans and we do not fear people from other countries, religions, etc. We are Americans….act like ONE.

    The primary reason for refusing refugees is that we fear a member of Da’esh will slip in destroy. The vast majority of Syrians are escaping Da’esh and it’s barbarism…we should provide safety.

    Another reality which is often overlooked is that over 90% of terrorist attacks in the US have been by non-Muslims. Recently radicalized fundamentalist Christians re the perpetrators. So…let’s analyze who commit acts of terror in the US and get rid of those existing citizens? Look the chart….it will tell you who to really target. I am absolutely sure that Christ would not look kindly on peoples who deny other’s refuge: Matt 25…shelter, Christ said, he didn’t limit who we should shelter nor who we should love….did HE?

    http://www.globalresearch.ca/non-muslims-carried-out-more-than-90-of-all-terrorist-attacks-in-america/5333619

    1. Fear of “radicalized fundamentalist Christians,” and the blatant, intentional misuse of statistics to exaggerate away from the true threat of mass death and destruction from Islamist terrorist acts on a global scale? Today is Mali. Adam, the poison of the soul comes in many different forms.

    2. Adam…ROFLOL…. do you see anything weird about your link? …anything a sociology major would notice quickly? It gives 1980 to 2005 as a test span in the US and concludes that only a small number of attacks were by muslims and that more attacks were by Jewish extremists. IT LEAVES OUT DEATH TOLLS. 9/11 alone was over 3000 victims by Muslims. Tell us how many victims were killed by Jewish extremists…5….14? We don’t know. Your link is a joke. Then when it goes into victim numbers, it starts in 2002 so that Muslim numbers ( 33 out of 300) look benign. Thus it skipped the 3000 they killed just three months before their new start date. Thanks for wasting our time. Then it conflates normal murders in a third test that have zero to do with terror…the topic.

    3. Your next link does a similar hat trick….it makes number of killed in 9/11 vanish completely and says that most police worry about right wing extremists. Of course they do. Kansas, Iowa, Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, Montana, Dokotas, Wyoming etc. etc. will never see a large Muslim attack like New York, D.C. or Paris…never. Chicago is possible. Boston happened. 3000 people in Peoria will never be an ISIS target. Muslims aim only for famous cities or plane bombings because they are media and limelight addicted…that’s New York and D.C. mainly. Police in almost every state will never encounter ISIS….even if ISIS attacks twice in the next year.
      Watch your link here: “In contrast, right-wing extremists averaged 337 attacks per year in the decade after 9/11, causing a total of 254 fatalities, according to a study by Arie Perliger…”
      Are you reading what you’re linking? The right wing in ten years did 3370 attacks and only killed 254 people….lol…were they using water guns. How did the NY Times print that. In one attack, Muslims killed over 3000 victims…in 3370 attacks, the right wing killed 254 victims. And normally I love the ny times but now this link is like stand up comedy. I live on the NY harbor. There are teens in this city who are more dangerous than those right wing stats indicate. How could you have 3370 attacks and only 254 murders? I’ll tell you how. The researcher counted property attacks and fist fights. Any more links Adam…lol?

    4. Wow, if someone who sez they love the NYTimes is telling you that your left wing claims are batshit crazy, you might want to listen to them.

    5. I examined the chart and noted two (2) things:

      1) The stats “conveniently” start counting AFTER 9/11 (and we all know how that Muslim terrorist act would have radically changed the pie chart
      (US News & World report of February this year).

      2) The “recently radicalized fundamentalist Christians” that you accuse of “being the perpetrators” do NOT show up on the chart at all. Extreme Left Wing Groups do (24%), but not “Extreme Right Wing Groups”, unless they make up ALL of the “Other Groups” (16%), which I seriously doubt.

      Another thing: You assert that it is “unconstitutional for a state to (declare that they will not take refugees)” Where, specifically, does it so state in the constitution?
      Look, I (being a legal immigrant myself) do not, in principal, oppose the admission of qualified and duly vetted refugees from wherever country they flee. State governors, however, have an obligation to protect their citizens. If they fear that not only the vetting process (by the federal government) leaves much to be desired, but also that this same Federal Executive does not meet its constitutional duty to enforce existing law (cities and yes ,some churches, providing sanctuary and harboring illegal immigrants), it becomes quite understandable that these governors feel they must act on their own.

  6. 170 hostages taken in Mali this morning by only ten men. You can bet NY is soon because it is a no concealed carry state like France, probably Mali too…sitting ducks. Rich Muslim states should be taking the Syrians in. Not the West at all.
    No non marrieds should be allowed into the US from Muslim countries. Catholics helped a Syrian family with seven children get here….they seem fine. Unmarrieds male or female should be fighting against ISIS in Syria….but should not be allowed in here regardless. In this bizarro world, Trump might actually be needed because political correctness will win out in the others in the area of security. Christ rebuked the 9 poor lepers who did not return and thank Him. He rebuked one man He cured who was also poor. Modern Catholic leaders will not rebuke the poor in the media spotlight on anything.

  7. Are we as the body of Christ not seeing that this whole international threat is not a shaking by God because of our own shortcomings and failures. Is this not a wake-up call from God who loves us so much that He needs to be tough in order to get our attention.
    What will really work……intellectual humbuck by wich we put ourselves up as some kind of autority, or ….. do we bow our knees (hearts) in prayer and ask God to open our eyes for our own failures and the courage to turn away from our wicked ways instead of using religious arguments by which we impose ourselves. Sorry for harsh words. (In my best English, sorry, I’m not an English speaking native)

    If my people, who are called by my Name,
    Will humble themselves and pray,
    And seek my face and turn from their wicked ways
    Then I wiil hear from heaven and heal their land
    If my people will humble themselves, and pray.
    2 Chronicles 7:14

    I hope that you hear what I intensely experience when I pray for your people and the world.
    May His face and grace shine upon you.

    br. Naji

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