In St Peter’s Square, on June 16th, 2013, Pope Francis said the following:
“Christians are “spiritual.” This does not mean that we are people who live “in the clouds,” far removed from real life, as if it were some kind of mirage. No! The Christian is someone who thinks and acts in everyday life according to God’s will, someone who allows his or her life to be guided and nourished by the Holy Spirit, to be a full life, a life worthy of true sons and daughters. And this entails realism and fruitfulness. Those who let themselves be led by the Holy Spirit are realists; they know how to survey and assess reality. They are also fruitful; their lives bring new life to birth all around them.”
Last week, as you probably know, Pope Francis invited parishes, religious communities, monasteries and shrines throughout Europe to welcome refugee families in preparation for the Year of Mercy. The president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, Archbishop Paul-Andre Durocher wrote in an open letter to Canadian Catholics , in response to the pope’s call: “Should we in Canada do less? When we refuse to welcome others, our country, our homes and our hearts become closed to life. Although many among us face economic difficulties, what we have and own is so much more than what is accessible to the world’s refugees. For our own peace of mind and our eternal salvation, we cannot refuse to share what we have with those in need.”
We have just begun, at St Philip’s and St Clare’s, a process of seeking how we can respond to the pope’s invitation to sponsor a refugee family. Is this something we could, and should, be doing at this time? Should we look to forming a collective response with other churches in Richmond, and other parishes nearby, and perhaps with local Muslims also? I have been consulting with some of the organizations in the parishes on this, and I would be grateful for any suggestion or insight or comment you might have to make. How can we approach this tragic situation in Syria and Iraq with “realism and fruitfulness” and in a way worthy of Christians?