Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns

Representing Maryknoll Fathers & Brothers, Maryknoll Sisters, and Maryknoll Lay Missioners
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Religious leaders' letter supporting refugee resettlement

We stand with refugees

The following is the text of the letter sent to President Trump and all members of Congress on January 25, 2017. Download a copy of the letter here.

Dear President Trump and Members of Congress,

As religious leaders from a variety of backgrounds, we are called by our sacred texts and faith traditions to love our neighbor, accompany the vulnerable, and welcome the sojourner. War, conflict and persecution have forced people to leave their homes, creating more refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced people than at any other time in history. More than 65 million people are currently displaced – the largest number in recorded history.

This nation has an urgent moral responsibility to receive refugees and asylum seekers who are in dire need of safety. Today, with more than five million Syrian refugees fleeing violence and persecution and hundreds of thousands of civilian casualties, the United States has an ethical obligation as a world leader to reduce this suffering and generously welcome Syrian refugees into our country. We call on the Trump Administration and all members of the U.S. Congress to demonstrate moral leadership and affirm their support for the resettlement of refugees from all over the world to the United States. This nation has a rich history as a leader in refugee resettlement, with significant precedent, including after World War II and after the fall of Saigon, when we resettled hundreds of thousands of refugees.

It is important to recognize that the United States has the most rigorous refugee screening process in the world, involving the Department of Defense, Department of State, Department of Homeland Security, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and National Counter Terrorism Center. The process includes biometric checks, medical screenings, forensic testing of documents, DNA testing for family reunification cases, and in-person interviews with highly trained homeland security officials.

The U.S. Refugee Resettlement program has been and should remain open to those of all nationalities and religions who face persecution on account of the reasons enumerated under U.S. law. We oppose any policy change that would prevent refugees from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen, or individuals who practice Islam and other faiths from accessing the U.S. refugee resettlement program. Proposals that would have the U.S. State Department disqualify refugees from protection based on their nationality or religion fly in the face of the very principles this nation was built upon, contradict the legacy of leadership our country has historically demonstrated, and dishonor our shared humanity.

As the United States joins the world in seeking ways to meaningfully respond to the global refugee crisis, it is paramount that the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program stay true to its mandate to resettle the most vulnerable. Vulnerable individuals from a host of religions, ethnicities and backgrounds have been and should continue to be resettled in the United States.

Together, representing our various faiths, we decry derogatory language that has been used about Middle Eastern refugees and our Muslim friends and neighbors. Inflammatory rhetoric has no place in our response to this humanitarian crisis. We ask our elected officials and candidates for office to recognize that new Americans of all faiths and backgrounds contribute to our economy, our community, and our congregations. Refugees are an asset to this country. They are powerful ambassadors of the American Dream and our nation’s founding principles of equal opportunity, religious freedom, and liberty and justice for all.

As people of faith, our values call us to welcome the stranger, love our neighbor, and stand with the vulnerable, regardless of their religion. We pray that in your discernment, compassion for the plight of refugees will touch your hearts. We urge you to be bold in choosing moral, just policies that provide refuge for vulnerable individuals seeking protection.

Sincerely,

National and International Leaders:

The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Rev. Gradye Parsons, Stated Clerk, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

The Rev. Dr. John C. Dorhauer, General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ

Rev. A. Roy Medley, General Secretary, American Baptist Churches and Chair, National Council of Churches

Bishop Warner H Brown, Jr, President of the Council of Bishops, The United Methodist Church and Resident Bishop, The San Francisco Area

The Reverend George Francis Flowers, Executive Director, Global Witness and Ministry, African Methodist Episcopal Church

Rev. Dr. Michael D. Castle, President, Alliance of Baptists

Dr. Steve Timmermans, Executive Director, Christian Reformed Church in North America

Stanley J. Noffsinger, General Secretary, Church of the Brethren

Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins, General Minister and President, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the U.S. and Canada

Jonathan Greenblatt, National Director, Anti-Defamation League

William Bernstein, Executive Director, Jewish World Watch

Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism and Senior Vice President, Union for Reform Judaism

Mark Hetfield, President & CEO, HIAS

Nancy K. Kaufman, CEO, National Council of Jewish Women

Debbie Hoffmann, President, National Council of Jewish Women

Rabbi Jill Jacobs, T’ruah: the Rabbinic Call for Human Rights

Jim Winkler, President, National Council of Churches

Rev. John L. McCullough, President and CEO, Church World Service

Rev. Dr. Earl D. Trent Jr. Chairman of the Board of Directors Church World Service

Linda Hartke, President and CEO, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service

Stephan Bauman, President, World Relief

Jim Wallis, President and Founder, Sojourners

William J Blacquiere, President and CEO of Bethany Christian Services

Rev. Peter Morales, President, Unitarian Universalist Association

Fr. Timothy P. Kesicki, S.J., President of the U.S. Jesuit Conference

Sister Simone Campbell, Executive Director, NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby

Marcia Allen, CSJ, President, Leadership Conference of Women Religious

Sr. Patricia Chappell, Executive Director, Pax Christi USA

Sister Margaret Magee, OSF, President, Franciscan Action Network

Sister Patricia McDermott, RSM, President, Sisters of Mercy of the Americas

Bishop Francis E. Krebs, Presiding Bishop of the Ecumenical Catholic Communion

Sr. Ellen Kelly, RGS, Congregational Leader, Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd.

Gerry G. Lee, Director, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns

Rev. Ron Stief, Executive Director, National Religious Campaign Against Torture

Diane Randall, Executive Secretary, Friends Committee on National Legislation

Anwar A. Khan, CEO, Islamic Relief USA

Salam Al-Marayati, President, Muslim Public Affairs Council

Sayeed Siddiqui, President, Muslim Youth of North America

Catherine Orsborn, Director, Shoulder to Shoulder Campaign

Atiya Aftab, Esq., Co-founder and Chair, Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom

Scott Wright, Director, Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach, U.S. Region, Missionary Society of St. Columban

Rev. Fr. Antonio Ponce OMI, Director – Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate-Justice, Peace & Integrity of Creation

Rev. Susan Taylor, National Public Affairs Director, Church of Scientology National Affairs Office

Rev. John Guttermann, Lead, Conversations With Friends

Rev. Dr. William Schulz, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee

Rabbi Jennie Rosenn, Vice President of Community Engagement, HIAS

Rabbi Rachel Grant Meyer, Educator, Community Engagement, HIAS

Nathan Hosler, Director, Office of Public Witness, Church of the Brethren

Sandra Sorensen, Director, Washington Office, United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries

Colin Watson, Director of Ministries and Administration, Christian Reformed Church in North America

Sister Patricia McDermott, RSM, President, Sisters of Mercy of the Americas

Rob Rutland-Brown, Executive Director, National Justice for Our Neighbors

Carol Barton, Executive for Community Action, United Methodist Women, National Office

Carol Bremer-Bennett, World Renew, US Director

Mary E. Hunt, PhD, Co-founder and Co-director, Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics, and Ritual (WATER)

Rabbi Marla J. Feldman, Executive Director, Women of Reform Judaism

Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President, Union for Reform Judaism

Rev. Dr. Elder Nancy L Wilson, Moderator, Metropolitan Community Churches

Rev. Leah C. M. Lonsbury, Clergy Care Specialist, The Alliance of Baptists

Rev. Paula Clayton Dempsey, Director of Partnership Relations, Alliance of Baptists

Rev. Ronald J. Degges, President, Disciples Home Missions

Rev. Ken Brooker-Langston, Director, Disciples Center for Public Witness

Rev. Dr. Sharon Stanley-Rea, Director, Refugee & Immigration Ministries, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Dr. Peter Makari, Executive, Middle East and Europe, Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples  of Christ) and United Church of Christ

Rev. Dr. James Moos, Co-Executive, Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ

Rev. Julia Brown Karimu, Co-Executive, Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ

Carol Blythe, Past President, Alliance of Baptists

Rev. Aundreia Alexander, Esq, Associate General Secretary for Action and Advocacy for Justice and Peace, National Council of Churches

Rev, Barbara L. Carter, Interfaith and Ecumenical Officer, Community of Christ

Marie Dennis, Co-President, Pax Christi International

Mr. Armando Borja, Regional Director, Jesuit Refugee Service North America

Sr. Jeanine Retzer, Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother United States/Caribbean Province

Rev. Michael-Ray Mathews, Director of Clergy Organizing, PICO National Network

Bishop Mary Ann Swenson, Ecumenical Officer, Council of Bishops, The United Methodist Church, Vice Moderator, World Council of Churches

Charlotte Haberaecker, President & CEO, Lutheran Services in America

Carol Bremer-Bennett, U.S. Director of World Renew

Dalit Baum, The American Friends Service Committee

Sr. Rose Therese Nolta, Servarum Spiritus Sancti, Holy Spirit Missionary Sisters – Justice Peace and Integrity of Creation, USA

Marjorie White, President, Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis

Rev. LeDayne McLeese Polaski, Executive Director, Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America, Bautistas por la Paz

Rev. Michael Neuroth, Policy Advocate for International Issues

Sister Donna Preston, OSF, Coordinator of Justice & Peace Team, School Sisters of St. Francis, U.S. Province

The Rev. Roger R. Gustafson, Bishop, Central States Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Sister Eileen Brynda, Sinsinawa Dominican Leadership Team

Sister Patricia A. Lowery, MMS, MD, Coordinator , Medical Mission Sisters

Sister Catherine Waldron, SNDdeN, United States East-West Province of the Sisters of Notre Dame Leadership Team

Rev. Mary E. Jacobs, Co-Moderator, Disciples Peace Fellowship, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Rev. Denise Turner, International Disciples Women’s Ministries Executive Council Member

Rev. Kathy McDowell, Editor of Just Women Magazine, published by Disciples Women

Rev. Dr. Olivia Bryan Updegrove

Sister Brenda Cousins, C.S.C., General Secretary, Sisters of the Holy Cross

Sister Kathleen Bryant RSC, Religious Sisters of Charity

Sister Mary Christopher Moore, Felician Sisters, Our Lady of Hope Province

Kate Hendel, BVM, Vice-President, Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Mira Mosle, BVM, Vice-president, Sisters of Charity, BVM

Sr. Rose Marie Jasinski, CBS Leader, Sisters of Bon Secours, USA

Teri Hadro, BVM, President, Sisters of Charity, BVM

Rev. Dr. Kenneth J Meyers, Knollwood Baptist Church

Rabbi Amy Eilberg, College of Saint Benedict and St. John’s Univeristy

Sister Joan O’Sullivan, Provincial Leader of Union of Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, US Unit

Rev. Leah Grundset Davis, Alliance of Baptists

Sister Margaret Bulmer,Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, Houston Office of Social Concerns

Kathlyn Mulcahy, OP, Dominican Sisters of Springfield

Sister Marjorie White, President, Sisters of St. Joseph, TOSF

Bishop F. Herbert Skeete, Rtd. United Methodist Church

Sr. Ann Oestreich, IHM, U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking

Andrew G. Lang, Executive Director, Open and Affirming Coalition, United Church of Christ

Imam Daayiee Abdullah, President and CEO, MECCA Institute

Rev. Rodney McKenzie, Jr., Director of the Academy for Leadership and Action, National LGBTQ Task Force

Sister Danielle Bonetti for the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet

Sr. Rose Therese Nolta, SSpS, Holy Spirit Missionary Sisters – JPIC, USA

Sr. Teri Hadro, BVM, President, Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The Rev’d  Margaret R Rose,  Deputy for Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations, The Episcopal Church

Bishop Joaquina Filipe Nhanala, United Methodist Church, Mozambique Episcopal Area

Rev. Shannon Jammal-Hollemans, Christian Reformed Church

Bishop Heinrich Bolleter, The United Methodist Church, Central and Southern Europe

Rev. Kephas Otieno Oloo, Vice-Chair GBCS, The United Methodist Church, Africa Central Conference

Bishop Elias Galvan, Retired, United Methodist Church and Executive Director,  MARCHA (Methodist Associated Representing the Cause of Hispanic Americans)

Rev. Diane Y.Mettam, Director of Prayer Ministry,  United Methodist DisAbility Task Force

Mr. Chett Pritchett, Executive Director, Methodist Federation for Social Action

Bishop S.Clifton Ives, The United Methodist Church, retired

Bishop Forrest C. Stith, Retired

Clay F. Lee, Bishop retired, The United Methodist Church

Bishop William W. Hutchinson, The United Methodist Church, Retired

Bishop Charlene Kammerer, Bishop, The United Methodist Church, Retired

Ray W. Chamberlain, Jr, Ret. Bishop, United Methodist Church

Bishop Peter D.Weaver, The United Methodist Church

Bishop Ernest S. Lyght, Retired, The United Methodist Church

Bishop Sharon Zimmerman Rader, retired, The United Methodist Church

Bishop Joseph H. Yeakel, retired The United Methodist Church

Bishop Al Gwinn, The United Methodist Church, Retired

Rev. Dr . Thomas Hudspeth, Pastor of the Deaf, the United Methodist Church

Bishop Alfred Johnson,  retired Bishop, The United Methodist Church

Bishop Susan W. Hassinger, The United Methodist Church, Retired

President of the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis, Stevens Point, WI

Local and Regional Leaders: For the complete list go to: http://www.interfaithimmigration.org/religiousleaderletter/ 

Issues: