December 2, 2016

Archbishop Tobin makes national headlines for allowing Syrian refugee family to resettle in Indianapolis

By Natalie Hoefer

The wheels were in motion—a Syrian refugee family of a young married couple and their two small children was scheduled to arrive in Indianapolis in early December of 2015 for resettlement through the archdiocesan Refugee and Immigrant Services program.

Defining Moments logoBut on Nov. 16, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence announced that he would suspend the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the state.

The archbishop met with the governor on Dec. 2, 2015, to discuss the family’s plight, to reassure him that the refugees had gone through an extensive background check, and to explain the archdiocese’s refugee resettlement process.

Pence did not change his stance. Nor did the archbishop. A press release was distributed to the media by the archdiocese on Dec. 8, 2015, announcing that the Syrian family had arrived safely the night before.

“I thank Governor Pence for meeting with me last Wednesday, when I was able to explain in some detail the plight of this family as well as the role of the archdiocese’s Refugee and Immigrant Services program in welcoming them to Indianapolis, where the family already has some relatives,” the archbishop stated in the press release.

“I 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.

“I informed the governor prior to the family’s arrival that I had asked the staff of Catholic Charities to receive this husband, wife and their two small children as planned.”

The family arrived in the archdiocese on the eve of the beginning of the Holy Year of Mercy, and also in the midst of Advent, as Archbishop Tobin noted.

“We welcome this family during Advent, a time when the Christian community asks God to renew our hope and recognize God’s saving power among us,” he said.

“As we wait with hope during this season of Advent, I ask all people of good will to pray for peace in our homes, local communities and throughout the world.”

The event was reported in newspapers around the nation and has been retold in articles announcing the archbishop’s selection as a cardinal, including the headline of the Catholic News Service’s story on Oct. 10, 2016: “Cardinal-designate Tobin made news defending Church aid to refugees.” †

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