February 15, 2017 — Jesuit Father Cedric Prakash has seen the refugee crisis firsthand — he currently works for Jesuit Refugee Service in the Middle East. And he’s been heartened by U.S. Jesuits speaking out against recent Trump Administration Executive Orders regarding immigration and refugees.
An Indian Jesuit and human rights activist, Fr. Prakash currently works as Regional Advocacy and Communications Officer for Jesuit Refugee Service in Beirut, which serves refugees in Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Turkey and Lebanon. Fr. Prakash is also the founder of PRASHANT, a Jesuit center for human rights, justice and peace in Gujarat, India. In 2006, he was awarded the Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur (Knight of the Legion of Honor) by the president of France for his lifetime commitment to the defense and promotion of human rights in India.
Fr. Prakash was inspired by the response of Jesuit organizations in the United States to the executive orders. “Thanks to the American Jesuits and all their collaborators, for being a source of inspiration to all, in these times,” wrote Fr. Prakash. “The Jesuits of America have not lost time in taking a courageous and unequivocal stand on behalf of the refugees, the migrants and the excluded.”
Fr. Prakash playing with children in a refugee center in the Middle East. (Vatican Radio)
In a reflection, Fr. Prakash cited statements from Fr. Leo J. O’Donovan, SJ, Executive Director of Jesuit Refugee Service/USA; U.S. Jesuit college and university presidents; and statements from the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the U.S. He said the statements reiterated the institutions’ “commitment to Gospel values, Jesuit identity, human rights and to a welcoming, inclusive and diverse American society.”
While Fr. Prakash points out that Jesuits in the U.S. are not the only ones speaking out against the orders, he is glad to see that the Jesuit response has been consistent with “their faith-justice mandate.”
“The American Jesuits and their collaborators … through their committed and courageous stand, have given America and the world, particularly the refugees, migrants and the excluded, a wholehearted assurance: ‘Come what may, we stand by you!’”
Fr. Prakash said that’s an example worthy of emulation by people everywhere: Jesuits and non-Jesuits alike.
Read Fr. Prakash’s full reflection, “American Jesuits Take a Stand.”