Indianapolis archbishop will soon decide whether to resettle refugee family

(Crux) Indianapolis Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin is expected to decide within the next few days if the local Catholic Charities agency will move ahead with plans to resettle a Syrian family in Indiana, over objections from Gov. Mike Pence.

Tobin promised Pence at an hourlong State House meeting Wednesday, during which the governor asked the archbishop not to resettle the family amid security concerns, that he would not discuss his plans with the media. Instead, the archbishop plans to call the governor personally with his decision, an archdiocesan spokesman said.

Some observers have said that governors telling religious agencies not to resettle Syrian refugees is a violation of religious freedom, but Tobin’s spokesman said the archbishop doesn’t see it like that.

“He’s never framed it as that,” said Greg Otoloski. “This is just part of what the Catholic Church has done for a long, long time, helping refugees fleeing violence and persecution around the world.”

Otolski said it was “highly unusual” for Tobin to be as involved in decisions like this, noting that the local Catholic Charities agency has settled close to 20,000 refugees and migrants over the past four decades.

The family – a mother, father, and two young children – is currently living in Jordan, having fled their home in Syria close to three years ago. Otolski said they have been through close to two years’ worth of background checks, and he downplayed notions that they would be any kind of security risk. [More]

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