The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants estimates that there as many as fourteen million refugees worldwide. Refugees are individuals who have fled their countries of origin and who meet the United Nations’ criteria of having a “well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.” Countless refugees are trapped in camps around the world, sometimes for years on end, with little for escape and limited opportunities to thrive. Recognizing the plight of these people, the Catholic Church has become involved in providing services and support to refugee populations, both domestically and abroad.
The Department of Migration and Refugee Services at the United States Conference of Catholic (USCCB/MRS) has for decades assisted in the resettlement of refugees that come to the United States. USCCB/MRS is the largest non-governmental agency in the U.S. to help refugees start a new life in a new world. This past year, in 2010, the Conference helped to resettle over 20,000 refugees in the United States.
The church’s involvement in their outreach to refugees is not something new, but extends back more than seven decades. This fact is often an underappreciated and overlooked reality. For this reason the USCCB, in coordination with the Catholic University of America Archives, is developing a website that will focus on the role of the Catholic Church on this topic and examine their in-depth involvement with refugee populations at different times and places. We plan to launch this new resource in Spring 2011.
Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS)
One of the greatest tragedies of the 21st Century is the explosive increase in the number of our world’s refugees, internally displaced people, and vulnerable migrants.
Since 1980 Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) has committed itself to accompanying, serving and defending the rights of these forcibly displaced people. While this curricular module focuses largely on areas of the world where JRS serves vulnerable and forgotten people, it also tries to address global issues of refugee protection and assistance.