Mass Migrations and the Christian Response

 

Today the world is witnessing a mass migration of refugees unprecedented since the days of World War II.According to an article that appeared on the BBC website this week, nearly 626,000 people have applied for permission to settle in the various countries of the European Union.About 120,000 of these people are from Syria, 45,000 from Afghanistan, and the rest from various countries beginning with the Balkan nations of Kosovo, Serbia, and Albania, and

African countries like Eitrea and Nigeria.And unsurprisingly, there are also refugees from violence-ridden Pakistan and even from Putinís corrupt puppet-democracy of Russia.

†††††† Are all these people truly refugees ó that is people seeking asylum from brutal regimes or threats to their lives?Or are most of them simply migrants, that is, those seeking to become immigrants to countries where they hope to provide themselves or their families with a better standard of living?It is hard sometimes to make the distinction, even though it has legal and humanitarian repercussions as to who need to be helped first.Most often, as is the case with the displaced Syrians, they are refugees who have been living in camps and other temporary shelters in neighboring countries (Turkey has nearly 2 million Syrian refugees, tiny Lebanon has 1.1 million, and Jordan over 600 thousand of them).Given such strained circumstances, can they possibly expect to have a decent life? And given Angela Merkelís intention, despite the protests of some neo-Nazis and skinheads, to welcome up to 800,000 of these migrants into Germany (which otherwise is facing a population decline), who can blame all these refugees and migrants for practically invading Europe by any means of transportation they can find, even at great risk to their lives?

†††††† All this, however, raises an even broader question: to what extent do we have, as Americanís, an obligation to help?We see that France and Great Britain, the two countries that were most responsible for carving up the Middle East into the crazy-quilt of rival ethnic groups and religious sects at the end of

the First World War when the Turkish Ottoman Empire collapsed, have been much less generous than the Germans in opening their doors to these refugees. Perhaps this is because they already have the burden of a sizeable Muslim population as result of their colonial past in North Africa and the Middle East.

Likewise the Eastern European countries are pleading that they still have to recover from their long imprisonment under Soviet Communism.But can the USA, whose more recent meddling in the Middle East pretty much triggered

much of the present turmoil over there, back away from all this or pretend to fulfill our obligations by accepting the up to 10,000 refugees announced by the Obama administration (according to CNN Sept 10) as the quota for next year?

††††††† Finally we must ask: what are our obligations specifically as Christians who will be judged by our willingness to give aid to the needy as commanded by Jesus (Matthew 25:31-46)?Indeed, if every Catholic parish in the USA (and there are presently over 17,000 of them) took in one refugee family as recently requested by Pope Francis, this would probably add up to giving shelter to about 70,000 people, figuring that the average family would be at least four persons.†† Indeed, if every Christian church or congregation in the USA (there are 350 thousand of them!) did the same, the USA would be taking in close to a million and a half such refugees.

Today we keep hearing about the decline of Christianity and the decline of religion, particularly among those who are rich or well off.Not that these middle-eastern refugees or migrants are all religious ó although most are probably at least nominally Muslim (at least until threatened by the ISIS fanatics), while a particularly threatened minority are Christian (many of them still using the same Aramaic language in their prayers as Jesus himself spoke).Traditionally, Christian missionary work (whether at home or abroad) has generally begun with caring for the poor and those in need, leaving the rest to open minds and Godís grace.Either way, it seems to me that Christians particularly those in the USA who are blessed with the freedom of religion, are now being given both the opportunity as well as the challenge to practice what they preach.

R.W. Kropf†† 9/14/2015†††††††††††††††††††††† Mass Migration.doc†† 15-9-14.htm