The news cycle is filled with the events and personalities surrounding the impeachment investigation. It is easy to miss stories that may be less exciting but are just as important. Last week Pope Francis unveiled the first new sculpture added to St. Peter’s Square in 400 years. What makes it worth our attention is that this sculpture lifts up the plight of migrants and refugees around the world. It is based on Hebrews 13:2, “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: For thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” It depicts 140 migrants and refugees of different faiths, cultures, and ethnicities including Mary, Joseph, and Jesus. Here is some of what the Pope said at the unveiling of this amazing piece of art:
“As Christians, we cannot be indifferent to the tragedy of old and new forms of poverty, to the bleak isolation, contempt and discrimination experienced by those who do not belong to ‘our’ group, We cannot remain insensitive, our hearts deadened, before the misery of so many innocent people. We must not fail to weep. We must not fail to respond. Let us ask the Lord for the grace of tears, the tears that can convert our hearts before such sins.”
Even as the Pope called Christians to repentance, openness, and action, our President issued two proclamations that would drastically restrict accepting migrants and refugees to our country. First, the administration seeks to cap the number of immigrants to the fewest in decades despite the current crisis. The second seeks to deny entry to those who do not have health insurance or sufficient money to pay for their health care. This would eliminate the vast majority of those who had to flee their countries with only what they could carry. While there is certainly no easy answer to developing a just and fair immigration policy, it is clear for those of us who follow Jesus that restricting immigration to a drastically limited few wealthy people is both cruel and unjust. It is clear that Mary, Joseph, and Jesus would never have been accepted with such restrictions. Are we okay with that? If not, we cannot support or condone these dehumanizing policies.