By Most Rev. Richard W. Smith, Archbishop of Edmonton

Monday, June 20, 2016

Internally Displaced

This blog is posted on World Refugee Day, 2016. The day lifts up to the world and its governments the heartbreaking plight of millions of men, women and children around the globe who have had to flee home and country to escape violence and persecution. To global efforts, the Church adds its own charitable works, undergirding everything with prayer to God that hearts and minds be stirred everywhere to work for peace and justice for all.

Among the refugees are countless persons designated as "internally displaced." They have had to flee home and town yet remain within their country's borders. They are caught in a kind of "no man's land," since the rescue efforts undertaken by nations often will focus solely on those who have crossed frontiers and thus qualify for the official designation "refugee". Yet these people suffer no less than others, indeed, perhaps even more, since they have yet to reach safe haven and danger to life follows them closely. May they, too, and find real help and rescue!

This special day can also serve to highlight a challenge that we face in our own homes. I've often thought that the term "internally displaced" and "refugee" can apply analogously to many family situations today. When I visit schools, I see children showing signs of their own internal displacement as, for example, when they come to school early and stay late because they find it safer or more comfortable at school than at home. Without leaving family, there is an "internal displacement" from a happy home life. Family dysfunction can leave people experiencing a kind of "refugee status" even while remaining within their own walls.

The millions of refugees in motion around our planet struggle mightily to keep their families together. Their sorry plight moves us to do all that we can to help them, as we must. Let's keep in mind also the families in our own country who need our prayers. May they, too, receive healing and a "return to home".