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Pope Francis’ Call to Host Refugees Contrasts With America’s Anti-Immigrant ‘Religious Right’
Posted on Sep 7, 2015
By Juan Cole
This post originally ran on Juan Cole’s website.
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It seems to me that there is a real question as to whether any of those who speak in such hateful ways are actually Christian at all.
In an astonishing show of solidarity with the refugees thronging into Europe, on Sunday Pope Francis called on European parishes and other Catholic institutions to take in a refugee family each. He said,
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He reminded the faithful of the upcoming Jubilee Year of Mercy in this regard.
Pope Francis said,
Father Federico Lombardi SJ, Director of the Vatican Press Office, explained that Pope Francis wants his call to reach the “whole of Europe” and not just a few localities. Moreover, he is asking that Catholic communities take the lead in welcoming the refugees during this crisis point, engaging in “concrete works of charity” and not just “organizational or logistic preparations.” Moreover, Father Lombardi said, the Pope is calling on entire parish communities to implement this instruction, not just on the priests.
The immediate need is for resettling 160,000 refugees. Italy alone has 25,000 parishes, and if each family had five members and each parish took one in, that would take care of 125,000 right there. Of course, it is not clear how many parishes will rise to the pope’s challenge, and the European Union will play a role in deciding how the refugees will be distributed.
Most of the refugees are Muslims, and right wing Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said last week that because of resentments over the legacy of the Ottoman Empire (which ruled much of eastern Europe), his country could not take any Muslim refugees. The major religion in Hungary is Catholicism, however, and Pope Francis (a man of the New World) clearly is pushing back against European Christian nativism of that sort, which is pretty ugly.
People forget when discussing the story of the Good Samaritan as told by Jesus that Samaritans belonged to a separate but related religion from Judaism (Samaritanism), so the help the Samaritan offered was being given to a Jewish outsider, not a coreligionist:
The Muslims are the Samaritans of today’s Europe; will its Christians step up to Jesus’ challenge?
Pope Francis instead referred to the story of Jesus healing the deaf and mute man, which he said symbolized the human inability to understand the word of God, which I take to be his slam against the anti-immigrant right wing.
Radio Vatican explained, “Jesus healed the man and – the Pope said – “unblocked” his capacity to enter into communication with others and with God. This story – he explained – speaks of us because we too are often inaccessible and closed within ourselves.”
I think Viktor Orban and Franklin Graham just got pwned.
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