Voice of reason on border crisis

07/15/2014 5:34 PM

07/15/2014 5:35 PM

It’s a rarity, during debates that evoke comparable amounts of sympathy and ire amongst people of divergent viewpoints, that a voice of reason should rise above the clamor.

But such a voice was ascendent on Tuesday during a media availability in the lobby of Catholic Charities Fort Worth.

Speaking about the ongoing humanitarian and policy crisis on the state’s southern border, Fort Worth Bishop Michael Olson, in a tone both empathetic and resolute, spoke of the need for Americans — and Texans in particular — to apply in equal measure the principles of “urgency” and “prudence” in responding to the influx of unaccompanied minors into the U.S.

Urgency, because the situation is real, dire and growing, and human lives are in the balance.

Prudence, because any action taken absent adherence to the rule of law — no matter how good the intentions — undermines the common good.

As one of the leading nonprofit organizations providing relief services to Central American migrants, its clear that Catholic Charities and its theological parent, the Roman Catholic Church, have a strong commitment to the humanitarian portion of the response. At their Tuesday press conference, CCFW leaders called for any additional assistance the public could provide — free legal advice, foster care, basic supplies for incoming children.

But Olson spoke clearly, also, of the need for cooperation and coordination between nonprofits and the federal government agencies charged with carrying out our laws.

His appeal was likewise for respect for elected officials who have a responsibility to provide policy guidance in the wake of a crisis that has many variant causes.

Olson’s words should resonate with Texans, the majority of whom seem to understand that the situation in the Rio Grande Valley is complex and requires the right mixture of charity and order.

But his implied meaning — that individuals can offer basic assistance to those in immediate need without subverting their own personal or political beliefs — is the message that really soared.

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