Cardinal O’Malley Chides Politicians Hostile to Syrian Refugees

'Proposals to simply exclude Syrian refugees as such lack the balance and humanitarian perspective needed at this time.'

Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley calmly scolded politicians hostile to the idea of accepting refugees fleeing the terror of the Syrian Civil War and the Islamic State.

The long statement issued by O’Malley on Thursday chides them for turning their backs on people “desperately in need of shelter, support and safety.”

Turning our backs on them would be a failure to deploy the “humanitarian perspective needed at this time” and, quite simply, the wrong thing to do in the face of such atrocities.

O’Malley, a longtime advocate for immigrants and refugees, is no strangers to these fights. Since the election of Pope Francis, also a strong supporter of immigrants and refugees, the social justice side of Roman Catholicism has been more visible than in recent years.

On Tuesday, Gov. Charlie Baker announced the state would not accept refugees from Syria until the federal government clearly explained their vetting procedures. Over 30 additional governors around the country have announced similar opposition to welcoming Syrian refugees in light of the slaughter in Paris.

O’Malley’s comments in full below:

Last Friday I promised Archbishop Vingt-Trois of Paris the prayers and support of the Archdiocese of Boston, for the people of Paris and all of France. The crisis in that nation continues and so must our prayer and solidarity with the citizens of France.

The consequences of the terrorist attacks on innocent civilians have extended throughout Europe and debates about the ramifications have reached our shores. We live in a dangerous time and it is clear that enhanced security procedures are needed, to make every effort to ensure public safety and good order. While that need is evident and widely recognized, decisions concerning the specific measures taken require careful deliberation.

One question which has arisen immediately concerns the U.S. immigration policy. At the state and national level positions have been taken questioning or directly opposing the policy of accepting Syrian refugees, based on the premise that because they are Syrian they might pose a security challenge to communities and our nation.

Public officials face very difficult challenges in an obviously dangerous world today. But proposals to simply exclude Syrian refugees as such lack the balance and humanitarian perspective needed at this time. For many months now we have watched Syrian individuals and families — Muslim and Christian alike — be driven from their homes and homeland and set adrift in a chaotic world, unprepared to provide for their safety or honor their humanity. The barbaric attacks in Paris, which demand a strong response and require policies that as best possible prevent recurrence, should not be used to efface the memory of Syrians and others from the Middle East and Africa who are desperately in need of shelter, support and safety.

Catholic Charities in the Archdiocese of Boston will continue its efforts to support a national policy on immigration based on humanitarian need regardless of place of origin. We pledge our cooperation with civic officials at all levels and ask the wider support of our communities as we seek to respond to our brothers and sisters who are indeed yearning to breathe free.