December 8, 2015

Catholic Church Welcomes Syrian Refugees Despite Pence's Objections

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Indianapolis has resettled a Syrian refugee family in the state, despite the objections of Governor Pence.  - File Photo

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Indianapolis has resettled a Syrian refugee family in the state, despite the objections of Governor Pence.

File Photo

INDIANAPOLIS--The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Indianapolis has resettled a family of Syrian refugees in Indianapolis despite objections raised by Republican Gov. Mike Pence and actions taken by the governor to prevent refugees from the war-torn country from arriving in the state.

Archbishop Joseph Tobin, in a statement released Tuesday morning, said the family arrived the previous night in Indianapolis, where it already has relatives.

The Catholic Church in Indianapolis announced last week that it would move forward with the resettlement of the married couple and their two small children even though Pence had directed Indiana’s Family and Social Services Administration to halt the distribution of funds dedicated to providing assistance for refugees originating from Syria.

Pence made that decision after it was found that one of the perpetrators of the Nov. 13 Paris terror attacks had entered Europe carrying a Syrian passport.

In his statement, Archbishop Tobin thanked the governor for meeting with him last week and said he “listened to the governor’s concerns regarding security and prayerfully considered his request that we defer from welcoming them until Congress had approved new legislation regarding immigrants and refugees.”

But, Tobin said, despite that request, he had directed the staff of Catholic Charities to welcome the family as planned.

“For 40 years the Archdiocese’s refugee and immigrant services has welcomed people fleeing violence in various regions of the world,” Tobin said in the statement. “This is an essential part of our identity as Catholic Christians and we will continue this life-saving tradition.”

In light of the Pence administration’s withholding of resettlement funds for Syrian refugees, the archdiocese said last week that it had come up with enough private donations to support the family upon its arrival.

The governor’s office responded with a statement of its own following the archdiocese’s announcement, saying that, while governor holds Catholic Charities in high regard, he “respectfully disagrees with their decision to place a Syrian refugee family in Indiana at this time.

““The safety and security of the people of Indiana is Governor Pence’s top priority,” the statement reads. “The State of Indiana will continue to suspend its participation in the resettlement of Syrian refugees in Indiana until the federal government takes action to address the concerns raised about this program.”

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