We, the Sisters of St. Francis of Dubuque, Iowa, express our grief because violence has once again taken the lives of our sisters and brothers in Paris, Beirut, Mali, California, and in so many other places in the world. Our prayers and thoughts go out to all those who directly suffer the pain of these senseless crimes. We stand in solidarity with those who denounce violence. Such events teach us, once again, that our efforts for peace and justice must go forward with renewed vigor.
Our Franciscan values (which are the values of the Gospel of Jesus) compel us to stand in solidarity with all those who believe that fear must not drive us to further violence. Unfortunately there are some who would use these tragic events to wage a propaganda war against the very people who are fleeing violence and are most intimately its victims. We are a nation of immigrants, and were once “strangers and immigrants”. Yet, we paradoxically, find ourselves struggling to support the basic human rights of refugees.
Pope Francis recently admonished the people of the Central Republic of Africa: “I strongly urge you make your country a welcoming home for all children regardless of their ethnic origin, political affiliation, and religious confession.”
Surely the United States has an abundance to share with those who bring only their hopes for a better life. We do not wish to be governed by bigotry and backlash. We have in place vetting processes for immigrants which allow us to be cautious but not walled off from the rest of the world.
In our Mission Statement we state our desire to “live in right relationship with all of creation.” If we are to be faithful to that Mission we must speak out for all in the Beloved Community. Our Mission does not allow us to close our hearts to the Syrian refugees. Wherever we serve and work, we pledge to reach out to all immigrants who seek a home, to work for immigration policies which are fair and just, and to contribute our resources to the efforts which support justice and non-violence.