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Don't close doors to refugees, church leaders say after Mideast trip

  • A mother stands with her children in 2014 in an informal tented settlement near Deir el Ahmar in the northern Bekaa Valley, Lebanon. (CNS photo/Sam Tarling, CRS)
  • A displaced Iraqi woman prays the rosary in 2014 inside St. Joseph Church in Irbil, Iraq. The church gives refuge to thousands of people who were displaced by the Islamic State. (CNS photo/Daniel Etter, CRS)
  • A young Syrian mother who was displaced by violence holds her 2-year-old child in 2015 outside their tent at an informal settlement in Deir al Ahmar, in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley. (CNS photo/Sam Tarling, CRS)
  • A Caritas staff member colors with a Syrian refugee child in 2013 at the Zarqa Caritas Center in Zarqa, Jordan. (CNS photo/Andrew McConnell, CRS)

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VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Given the ongoing crises in the Middle East, North American, European and other Western nations will need to be more generous in coming to the aid of refugees and displaced peoples, said two prominent church leaders.

The answer is continued assistance, "not to close the gates of the countries where people are knocking for survival," said Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi, former Vatican representative to U.N. agencies in Geneva.

Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, retired archbishop of Los Angeles, told journalists that nations like Lebanon and Jordan have been "very heroic" in accommodating large numbers of refugees, "as compared to many other countries, especially the United States, which I think is gravely at fault here."

The archbishop and cardinal spoke about a 10-day visit to Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Greece to visit refugees and church-based organizations offering aid and assistance. The March 9 media event was hosted by the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.

"We saw humanity at its worst and humanity at its best on this journey," Cardinal Mahony said. The worst was seeing situations "where men could so mistreat and maltreat other men, women and children."

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