Third, we should offer asylum to those most endangered. This is, of course, a huge task and one requiring immense generosity of spirit. It would have significant, short term economic repercussions, but in recent years we have witnessed the Germany Republic open its arms and its wallets to the basket case that was communist East Germany. In the view of many, it has made the new Germany a stronger and better nation.
As a nation, America has had a history of taking in the refugees of famines and wars. During the 19th century our country took in millions and millions of people from Ireland and Germany, and during the beginning of the 20th century millions of Italians came to this country to start a new life. One of the benefits of opening our doors to Christians from the Mideast is that many come with skills. The realization of the economic consequences of a major Christian exodus from this region will surely help government leaders comes to their senses and work to suppress their persecutions.
Nor is the idea of immigration legislation specially crafted to help a particular group unknown in our country. In 1982, Sen. Edward Kennedy sponsored an amnesty bill that allowed between 25,000 and 30,000 illegal Irish immigrants to remain in the country. Similar generosity to those Christians living under the threat of persecution does not seem too much to ask for from our government. We should be ready to help it reach out to these endangered souls.
Kevin and Marilyn Ryan, editors of "Why I'm Still a Catholic," worship at St. Lawrence Church in Brookline.
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