Suppose the bishops caught fire and decided they were all going to move as fast as possible to settle refugees. They are all going to put refugee families in every parish. How many parishes are there?
The Official Catholic Directory for 2014 says there are 17,483 parishes in the country. So if every parish takes a family or a group – on average, of four people – that’s about 70,000 refugees settled.
Catholics are about 22% of the nation. So if Catholics can take 70,000, then other religious communities and organized civic groups (colleges, ethical societies), matching that, should be able to raise that by a factor of 5. All religious communities, and organized civic communities, should be able to take 350,000 refugees. I mean, if people noticed that there’s a war going on, and acted as if wars can cause emergencies, then every parish (or other group) could take a family this afternoon. It would be a little messy for a few weeks – basements, couches, adjustments. But within a month, most people would be in living and dignified circumstances. Given a month to prepare, churches (and similar) could take 350,000 refugees, and provide hospitality that would not be embarrassing.
How about two families? Could your parish/church/synagogue/mosque/college/civic association take two families in a year? That would be a stretch, but is it do-able? There’s a war going on: can you help?
How about three? That would be a million refugees, fed and settled and befriended.
It’s not going to happen any time soon.
Me, I can’t handle a million. I can’t even keep track of all those zeroes: do not have a gut sense of the difference between one million and ten million. But could my parish, if convinced that there was an emergency, care for three families? Gulp. Yes, we can. In fact, we could do this without government help.
That’s what it would look like if we in the USA took our fair share.