One of the many striking aspects of the tragedy of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has been the generous response of the citizens of neighboring European countries, particularly Poland, to the refugees — more than 6.5 million as of June 1. The stories of ordinary citizens helping receive the fleeing Ukrainians, even opening their homes to accommodate them, are inspiring reminders of humanity in the midst of this calamitous war.
Also encouraging is the willingness of other countries, outside of Europe, to help the refugees, including Canada and here in the United States. The Biden administration has said it will accept up to 100,000 Ukrainians. In addition, less than a year since the collapse of the government in Afghanistan, our nation has committed to welcoming as many Afghan refugees. Two stories in this issue of Maryknoll show people helping resettle Afghans in our country, while our World Watch column addresses the record-breaking number of refugees worldwide.
Sadly, not all refugees fleeing war and other forms of violence have received the same welcome. The same European countries opening their arms to Ukrainians — admittedly, their close neighbors — were not so welcoming of refugees from places such as Syria, which have been subjected to similarly brutal conflicts.
Even as we respond to Afghan and Ukrainian refugees, the Gospel calls us to recognize the similar needs of other refugees, including children, clamoring for protection at our own borders. As Jesus said, “I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” (Matthew 25:35)