Putting a human face on the refugee crisis Print
Written by Mary Uhler   
Thursday, Sep. 17, 2015 -- 12:00 AM

Abdullah Kurdi weeps over the death of his son as he leaves a morgue in Turkey.

(CNS photo/Murad Serzer, Reuters)

The power of a human face

We’ve been hearing a lot about the plight of migrants and refugees, but their problems didn’t seem very real to me — until I saw the pictures of this little boy and his father.

It made me think: What if this were my child? Or one of my grandchildren? What if we were forced to flee our country? Would anyone help us?

Perhaps what it takes is to put a human face on the problems of migrants and refugees. Otherwise they just seem to be a mass of faceless humanity and we feel powerless to do anything.

‘Tip of the iceberg’

Pope Francis has spoken frequently about the huge wave of refugees, particularly from Syria, who are seeking safety and a new life in Europe.

In a radio interview, the Holy Father said, “These poor people are fleeing war, hunger, but that is the tip of the iceberg. Because underneath that is the cause; and the cause is a bad and unjust socio-economic system.

“The dominant economic system today has removed the person from the center, placing the god money in its place,” Pope Francis said.

When he comes to the United States next week, Pope Francis plans to meet with immigrants and refugees on September 25 in New York City. They are people who have been helped by Catholic Charities’ programs.

The Holy Father has reminded us that we all have a responsibility to welcome immigrants, especially those fleeing from persecution — some of them our fellow Christians.

Let’s pay attention to the immigrants in our own parishes and communities who may need our help. Let’s not forget that all of us came from immigrant families. Instead of building walls around our country, we should be building bridges of welcome!