New Jersey Bishop Condemns US Refugee Policy in New Years Message

Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey
Posted Jan 2, 2019

In his New Years message to the Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey, The Right Rev. William H. (Chip) Stokes, Bishop of New Jersey, condemns US policy on refugees and urges support for refugees this New Year.

“In December, the United States was one of only two member nations that opposed a Global Compact on Refugees, an agreement in which signers recognized the need for a cooperative approach to address the critical refugee crisis. Hungary was the other country that opposed the agreement.

This past week, an 8-year old Guatemalan boy, Felipe Alonzo Gomez, died in U.S. custody only a few short weeks after a 7-year old Guatemalan girl, Jakelin Caal, died in the custody of U.S. Border Patrol. These deaths are a mark of shame on this country. They condemn current United States policy.

Jesuit writer and blogger James Martin recently observed, “this is how the infant Jesus is coming to us today: as the migrant child. And we are neither welcoming Jesus, nor caring for Jesus. ‘I was a stranger and you did not welcome me.’ (Mt. 25).” (James Martin Twitter account—12/26/2018 @JamesMartinSJ).

As we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Name, it is clear our nation’s soul is sick. We are angry and polarized. We can’t find a way to work together with one another and the world community to address human crises of epic proportions, crises in which innocent children are often the victims. We need a savior, a deliverer. We need Jesus.

I pray the New Year will heal us and that it will bring us new resolve to love God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind, and to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:34).

One way to do show this kind of love is through advocacy and support of Episcopal Migration Ministries, one of only nine agencies in the United States that works with the government on refugee resettlement. Another way is to support the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). In addition to working with these agencies, it is imperative that we let our members of Congress know we stand with refugees. The New Year is a good time to sign up with the Episcopal Public Policy Network (EPPN), which is the advocacy arm of The Episcopal Church in Washington.”

You can read the full message from Bishop Stokes here.