The Compass: Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay
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September 28, 2001 Issue
Local News

Don't retaliate against the innocent

'Seeking revenge is never right'

After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, Bp. Robert Banks of Green Bay joined Catholic bishops from across the U.S. in sending a message to parishioners: Do not retaliate against innocent Arabs/Arab-Americans and Muslims.

"Taking innocent human life is never right. Hating our brother or sister is never right. Seeking revenge is never right," Bp. Banks said. "Yes, to seek and find and punish the guilty is right, but we don't want to give room in our hearts to the kind of hatred and anger that bred terror. Especially we do not want to turn against a whole race or people for what has been done by the violent amongst them."

Mark Franken, executive director of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, elaborated on why it is important not to retaliate:

• Refugees from the Near East have fled persecution by the governments and groups that are likely behind the terrorist acts we have experienced, and know first-hand the terror perpetrated by these extremists. Refugees have looked to the U.S. as a place of freedom from persecution.

In the case of Afghan refugees, many of whom are women and children, they have fled the Taliban regime which has supported Osama bin Laden and his terrorist network. Because these refugees did not support their government's policies, they were singled out for persecution and fled Afghanistan for their lives. In effect, we Americans share with these refugees the tragic, yet common, plight of being targeted by extremist groups.

• In order to be admitted to the U.S. as a refugee, the applicant undergoes investigative security checks conducted by law enforcement and intelligence agencies of the U.S. government. Only after these background checks have been conducted can a refugee be cleared for admission.

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