the Web Editors 06-16-2016

Image via  / Shutterstock.com

A group of Republicans in the House of Representatives is working on legislation to ban all refugees from settling in the United States, reports Foreign Policy.

While the proposed legislation sounds similar to Donald Trump’s proposal to block immigration from all “areas of the world where there is a proven history of terrorism,” the refugee ban makes no distinctions based on country of origin.

Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki. Image via REUTERS/Tony Gentile/RNS

A German Catholic leader’s defense of religious freedom has triggered a backlash following anti-Muslim statements by far-right politicians in the country.

Editor-in-Chief Ingo Brueggenjuergen of the Catholic broadcaster Dom Radio, which ran the interview with Archbishop Rainer Maria Woelki of Cologne earlier this week, said in a commentary April 27 that some critics are claiming the cardinal is out to destroy the Catholic Church.

the Web Editors 04-04-2016

Image via Anjo Kan / Shutterstock.com

In accordance with a new deal between the E.U. and Turkey, Greece has begun deporting refugees to Turkey, reports Al-Jazeera. Meanwhile, according to a report issued by Amnesty International, the Turkish government has been forcing Syrian refugees back to Syria. If this is true, Turkey would be violating international law.

the Web Editors 01-12-2016

Rob Lawrie with Bahar Ahmadi. Image via Twitter

"I had told her father 'no' many times," Lawrie said in his small suburban-style house in Guiseley, 210 miles (335 kilometers) north of London. "But half past 10 one rainy night, when she fell asleep on my knee as I was leaving for the ferry, I just couldn't leave her there anymore. All rational thought left my head."

Roberto Benigni. Image via REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi/RNS

Italian comedian Roberto Benigni is best known for his goofy humor and slapstick sketches, but he may turn out to be the perfect pitchman for Pope Francis’ new book-length interview on mercy.

the Web Editors 11-16-2015

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"The people who are fleeing Syria are the most harmed by terrorism, they are the most vulnerable as a consequence of civil war and strife. They are parents, they are children, they are orphans. And it is very important — and I was glad to see that this was affirmed again and again by the G20 — that we do not close our hearts to these victims of such violence and somehow start equating the issue of refugees with the issue of terrorism.

"When Pope Francis came to visit the United States, and gave a speech before Congress, he didn’t just speak about Christians who were being persecuted. He didn’t call on Catholic parishes just to admit to those who were of the same religious faith. He said, protect people who are vulnerable."

Image via /Shutterstock

There is no political outcome that will make these children not drowned. There is no politics that will pull their shirts down to cover their exposed tummies, the way a parent’s loving hand would do. There is no politics that will make their drenched clothing anything other than the last outfit their parents ever clothed them in, unaware when they did so that it would be the clothing in which their children would die. There is no politics that will give these children another life that does not end in terror and despair and cold water. (God, God, how does one write words like this?) There is no politics that will give their parents anything but the end they had: of going into the dark knowing that their dear ones were lost forever.

All this is permanent. It is done and cannot and will not and will never be undone. And while I am all for good politics, which is to say I am all for a good future, and so I am all for doing better by the refugees that yet live, I also refuse to let the past go as if it were merely the gravel under the sub-foundation of whatever shiny tomorrow we happen to build next.

There is no politics that can redeem what time has irretrievably taken. To stand as witness to the past is to stand either in utter nihilism and despair, or in the desperate, desperate hope that in the end a Redeemer will walk upon the earth, who will bring forth those whose flesh was destroyed, to see and be loved forever by God.

Annika Spalde 07-10-2015

Paper boats in memory of Mediterranean migrants, Enki Photo / Shutterstock 

SINCE JANUARY, more than 1,750 migrants have died or gone missing in the Mediterranean Sea. That is more than 30 times higher than during the same period last year, according to the International Organization for Migration. The United Nations estimated that, as of the end of May, 90,000 migrants had come across the Mediterranean into Europe so far in 2015.

Last summer, Christian Peacemaker Teams, an international NGO that places unarmed intervention teams in situations of conflict to reduce violence, launched CPT-Mediterranean on the Greek island of Lesbos to support migrants arriving by sea. I served with that team and heard survivors’ stories firsthand. So what is going on?

Eleven million people were displaced by violence last year, according to The New York Times, most driven out of Syria, Iraq, Ukraine, and Afghanistan. However, tens of thousands are also pushed north from sub-Saharan Africa, fleeing desperate poverty and violence. It’s the worst migration crisis since World War II, according to the United Nations.

In the past, most migrants into the European Union came by land. In Greece, they entered along the border with Turkey. In 2012, Greece built a fence along the Turkish border to stop migrants and refugees from coming into the country. This forced migrants to enter Europe along Greece’s border with Bulgaria. In 2014, a fence was erected there too, effectively cutting off a primary land route into the European Union. 

Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

Three hundred sub-Saharan Africans sit onboard a boat during a rescue operation. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

Pope Francis on Wednesday said people who shut out refugees should seek forgiveness, after clashes on Italy’s borders as European countries try to push back against a wave of migrants fleeing by boat from Libya.

Addressing crowds in St. Peter’s Square, Francis drew his followers’ attention to the U.N.’s World Refugee Day this Saturday.

Alessandro Speciale 07-09-2013
Photo courtesy RNS.

Pope Francis waves from the pope-mobile during his inauguration Mass at St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican. Photo courtesy RNS.

In his first official trip outside Rome since his election, Pope Francis visited the tiny island of Lampedusa off the coast of Sicily on Monday, hoping to show solidarity to African migrants who risk their lives trying to immigrate to Europe.

Set only 70 miles from Tunisia, the Italian island of Lampedusa is the first port of safety for the thousands of undocumented migrants and asylum seekers who risk their lives every summer trying to reach Europe on small, rickety boats.

Francis said the frequent news reports on the deaths of the people who were trying to make the crossing had been like “a thorn in the heart” for him, and called on society to overcome what he called “the globalization of indifference.”

If we read 1 Peter's message to immigrants, exiles, and foreigners only as a metaphor, we risk missing the point.

the Web Editors 10-27-2011

Baby steppin': Economy grew 2.5 percent in the third quarter. Democrats first offer: $3 trillion for debt. Immigration is a faith issue. Harsh rhetoric to derail the GOP? The canon of St. Paul's Cathedral in London resigns over plans to evict Occupy London protesters. Elizabeth Warren and the #OccupyWallStreet election test.

Ivone Guillen 10-05-2011
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How ironic that for all the protests going on about unemployment these days that a parallel debate is occurring in our agricultural sector: What to do about a shortage of workers to pick crops or care for livestock on U.S. farms.

Cathleen Falsani 09-21-2011

Sojourners statement regarding "No More Deaths" report on U.S. Border Patrol abuses: "As a Christian organization, Sojourners believe that all people, regardless of national origin, are made in the "image of God" and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. We also believe that immigrants are our neighbors and that all life is a sacred gift from God. No More Deaths' report on abuse of immigrants in short-term custody is a chilling reminder that we have a long way to go to affirm a consistent ethic of life in our nation. The overcrowding, physical and psychological abuse, exposure to unsanitary conditions, and denial of food and water to immigrants held in custody of the U.S. Border Patrol must end. As Christians, we insist that all immigrants should be treated fairly and with respect, no matter what side of the border they live on. There are no excuses for such practices to continue, and we call on the Obama Administration to seek accountability for every documented case of abuse by the Border Patrol. The United States should lead by example in all measures of human rights. These numbers offer a stark contrast between the nation we claim to be, built and made better by immigrants, and the nation we are."

Andrew Simpson 09-19-2011

Rick Perry was recently asked by a nine-year-old "If you were a super hero, what kind of super hero would you be?" His answer to the child's benign question was simultaneously predictable and profound: Superman.

Gebe Martinez 09-08-2011

There are no whirring helicopters, law enforcement vehicles, or hundreds of federal agents swooping down on businesses as in days of old. Instead, such immigration raids have been replaced by a less overtly brutal approach: "silent" raids, or audits of work eligibility I-9 forms.

But the fear remains.

At the first whisper of an employer receiving notice from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that employees' eligibility records are about to be checked, pulses rise. Legal workers worry about being erroneously bounced out of work; unauthorized employees fear being kicked out of the country and separated from their families. Communities are shaken, business operations are disrupted, and jobs are lost. The anemic economy takes another hit.

Andrew Simpson 08-04-2011

When the Alabama legislature passed their infamous, anti-immigrant law (HB 56), the religious community in the state immediately cried foul. Jim Wallis and other national leaders condemned the law as unjust and immoral.

HB 56, which will go into effect September 1, attacks virtually every aspect of immigrants' lives. Among many punitive measures, it authorizes police to detain anyone they suspect is undocumented, mandates criminal penalties for those who transport undocumented migrants, and demands that public schools determine the immigration status of all students.

'Statue of liberty' photo (c) 2011, Rakkhi Samarasekera - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

"I will call them my people, who were not my people. And her beloved, who was not beloved." (Romans 9:25 referencing Hosea 2:23)

Estranged, alienated, and removed; anyone living in an industrialized modern society in the 21st century would be able to define, or at least identify the sentiments of these words. Our time is one of mass communication and instantaneous access to knowledge. And yet our lives are too compartmentalized, increasingly divided, and our society reflects this. Indeed the existential writers of yesteryear were correct in diagnosing the iron cage that would befall us, ultimately leading to an eclipse of reason.

This hymn was originally used for the dedication of the 180 solar panels on the sanctuary of Limestone Presbyterian Church in Wilmington, Delaware where I am the co-pastor.
Brian McLaren 03-10-2011

With all the angst about the economy, the deficit, and a looming government shut-down, I'm still concerned that we're treating symptoms rather than diagnosing the underlying disease.

I know something about this. I spent a week in the hospital last year having loads of tests done -- blood work, heart scans, stress tests, and sonograms. I was discharged without a diagnosis, merely with hopes that by treating the symptoms, whatever was wrong would go away. It didn't. It turned out my real problem was a tick-born disease, and once it was diagnosed, a ten-dollar prescription of antibiotics cured me. Without that ten-dollar prescription to treat the real problem, I could have experienced life-long disability.