By Lucas Sharma, SJ
President Trump’s Executive Order halting immigration and entry into the United States from seven countries has prompted Jesuit colleges and universities to issue strong statements rejecting the order. This follows protests at airports and cities across the country, including outside the White House Sunday afternoon.
For example, Fordham University President Father Joseph M. McShane SJ issued a statement Saturday night noting that the university has “identified at least seven students who may be affected by the current order, and we have reached out to them to offer support and advice.” Loyola University New Orleans President Father Kevin Wildes SJ said that a few LONO students were impacted, but pressed this issue further in his own statement:
Although only a few in our community have been directly impacted, this order is something that affects us all to our core. Our values support the need for nation-states to protect their citizens from legitimate threats. However, not only is the turning away of refugees in direct conflict with our Catholic, Jesuit values, but it is also contrary to our American ideals and constitutional rights as a free country that welcomes immigrants and does not discriminate on the basis of religion or national origin. And so, as a community that believes in social justice, we offer up these prayers for our society.
Wildes concludes the letter by citing Pope Francis, who said, “It’s hypocrisy to call yourself a Christian and chase away a refugee or someone seeking help, someone who is hungry or thirsty, toss out someone who is in need of my help.”
In addition to countless statements by presidents at Jesuit colleges and universities, Jesuit provinces have taken strong statements too, including California and Oregon Province Provinicials Michael Weiler SJ and Scott Santarosa SJ. Issued today, they “unequivocally denounce the Trump Administration’s Executive Order as an affront to our mission, an assault on American and Christian values, and a repudiation of our humanity.”
Jesuit Refugee Services, whose mission is to help refugees like those barred from the United States by this Executive Order, is asking citizens to advocate on behalf of people seeking refuge in the United States. By following their link, one can send an electronic email to Congressional Leaders, the Vice President, and President Trump himself – in less than three minutes. The USCCB has a similar electronic advocacy letter as well.
For more information and a summary of statements from each college and university, visit the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU) website.