Letter of Appeal for War Refugees of Vietnam and Cambodia

The presence in our midst of war refugees from Vietnam and Cambodia has dramatized before our eyes in the past two weeks the Parable of the Good Samaritan:  “Who is my neighbor?”

We could not but ask this question as we saw a hundred thousand refugees come through and leave our shores in search of a new homeland, and as we thought of millions more left behind, homeless in their own land, without food, shelter or clothing — the anonymous victims of Indochina’s twenty-five year war.

As a nation that not so long ago had also known the ultimate horrors of war and even more, as a people with a deep-seated Christian conscience, we must be moved by compassion, like the Good Samaritan, to go out of our way, whatever the risk, to help “the wounded man  …to dress his wounds, and bring him to an inn” where he could be restored to health.

For ours is a noble tradition of hospitality:  hardheaded considerations of natural security have always, in the past, been tempered by our Christian sentiments of compassion and humanitarianism.  So did we act in the thirties before the war when we opened our doors to Jewish refugees expelled from Germany; so too did we act in the fifties after the war when we gave haven to missionaries, to white Russians and Chinese refugees from the mainland.  As if by instinct, we honored the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which affirms that “everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution”; as if by instinct, we followed Pope John XXIII’s Pacem in Terris, reminding us that “among the rights of human persons must be included the one by which a man may enter a political community where he hopes he can more fittingly provide a future for himself and his dependents.”

In view of this, as a visible token of our Christian concern, we appeal to you to set aside May 18, Pentecost Sunday as a Day of Prayer for the war refugees from Vietnam and Cambodia.  All our Mass collections on that day will be for the Refugee Relief Fund which we hereby are setting up through the National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA).  Whatever your Christian generosity can give in money or kind (food, clothing, medicines, etc.)  NASSA through its ALAY KAPWA structure will collect between now and May 31, for transmittal to our suffering Vietnamese and Cambodian Neighbors.

May the Holy Spirit which makes all things new and gathers into one the scattered children of God, bring the peoples of Vietnam and Cambodia safely through the agonies of war into lasting peace and unity.



Archbishop of Cebu

President, CBCP

May 18, 1975

Pentecost Sunday



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