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Archbishop of Indianapolis to Discuss the Polemic Around Refugee Resettlement in Lecture Here Oct. 24

Indianapolis Archbishop Joseph Tobin will discuss “Welcoming the Stranger While Challenging the Fear: The Response of the Catholic Church to the Polemic Around Refugee Resettlement in the United States” at the Annual Lecture of the University of St. Thomas’ Institute for Catholicism and Citizenship.

Archbishop Joseph Tobin

The lecture, free and open to the public, will be held at 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 24, in Woulfe Alumni Hall of Anderson Student Center on the St. Paul campus of the University of St. Thomas.

Last fall, as the Archdiocese of Indiana was making plans to resettle a family of refugees from Syria, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence directed all state agencies to halt the resettlement of Syrians in his state.

Pence – who is Donald Trump’s running mate and one of many governors who attempted to block Syrian refugees from entering their states – was sued by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana on behalf of Exodus Refugee Immigration, a private not-for-profit resettlement agency that works to help refugees.

“In the wake of the horrific attack in Paris, effective immediately, I am directing all state agencies to suspend the resettlement of additional Syrian refugees in the state of Indiana pending assurances from the federal government that proper security measures have been achieved,” Pence declared on Nov. 16, 2015.

But on Dec. 8, 2015, Tobin announced: “The family arrived safely in Indianapolis last night.”

“I thank Gov. 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. … 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.

“For 40 years the Archdiocese’s Refugee and Immigrant Services has welcomed people fleeing violence in various regions of the world,” Tobin said. “This is an essential part of our identity as Catholic Christians and we will continue this life-saving tradition.”

A U.S. district court judge in February struck down Pence’s directives and he appealed. In early October, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lower-court ruling and said federal law does not give a governor the power “to deport to other states immigrants he deems dangerous.”

“The governor of Indiana believes, though without evidence, that some of these persons were sent to Syria by ISIS to engage in terrorism and now wish to infiltrate the United States in order to commit terrorist acts here,” the appeals court wrote. “No evidence of this belief has been presented, however; it is nightmare speculation.”

A native of Detroit, Tobin was ordained in 1978 and for many years served Hispanic communities in the Midwest. He became archbishop of Indianapolis in 2012.

This lecture is co-sponsored by St. Thomas’ Institute for Catholicism and Citizenship, College of Arts and Sciences, Office for Mission, Theology Department, St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity, Center for Catholic Studies, History Department, Sociology Department, Justice and Peace Studies Department and the GALE Office of Community Engagement.

The Institute for Catholicism and Citizenship was established in 2015 to “promote civil discourse, faithful citizenship and the common good by fostering theological insight and interdisciplinary inquiry into economic, political and social issues.”

More information about the lecture can be found here.