U.S. Bishops’ Migration Chairman on the Observance of World Refugee Day

For the last twenty years, World Refugee Day (June 20) has been observed annually in the United States and around the world to increase awareness of the plight of refugees and other forcibly displaced persons. The United States has resettled an all-time low number of refugees during the last three consecutive years. As restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic loosen, together with a revised Presidential Determination for this year, there is now a path for the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program to regain its historical prominence. Currently, the world faces the largest forced migration crisis since World War II, with almost 80 million forcibly displaced people around the world and 25 million refugees among them, around half of whom are children.

In advance of this year’s World Refugee Day, Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington and chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration, issued the following statement:

“In the face of each refugee, we see the face of Christ, calling us to be a neighbor. It is this—our shared humanity—that should motivate us to respond to those in need, so as to imitate the Good Samaritan in Luke’s Gospel.

“We know that it will take time for our country to return the refugee program to the historic norms that have come to be expected in its efforts to assist refugees. However, my brother bishops and I remain committed to those who live each day seeking to free themselves from violence, poverty, and persecution. As Catholics, we recall that many in our own community came as strangers. We must never forget that experience, nor the related challenges of integration, which the Church is uniquely qualified to ease.  

“As Pope Francis teaches, ‘Being compassionate means recognizing the suffering of the other and taking immediate action to soothe, heal, and save. To be compassionate means to make room for that tenderness which today’s society so often asks us to repress.’ Today, we possess an opportunity to welcome the refugee with dignity and share the many blessings we enjoy as a country. Let us seize it.”

More information on World Refugee Day, including a list of prayer services around the country,  can be found on the Justice for Immigrants website.