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Mormons and Catholics Team Up in 'Collective Resolve' to Help New Refugees in U.S.

The Mormons gave a huge donation to the Catholic Church this week to assist the latter's effort in aiding newly arrived refugees through 80 diocesan resettlement offices across the country.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said the $1.25 million gift from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to their Migration & Refugee Services office comes in the form of cash and donated food and goods.

Bishop W. Christopher Waddell, second counselor in the Presiding Bishopric of the Church, also presented a $750,000 donation Monday to the International Rescue Committee, which has operations in 29 cities to assist refugees who have just entered the United States.

"We are grateful for the ongoing relationships we have with people of faith for the opportunities it provides to assist in one of the fundamental principles of the gospel – caring for those that may feel like strangers among us," Waddell said. "This includes those who have been driven from their homes and find themselves in new and unfamiliar circumstances."

"This donation today is part of our ongoing relationship with the USCCB and our collective resolve to follow Jesus Christ and assist in bettering the lives of refugees," he added.

Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, auxiliary bishop of Seattle and chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, said he's "extremely grateful that Bishop Waddell and the LDS Church chose to support Migration & Refugee Services in this way."

"Together, as people of faith, we know that refugees desperately need our help –and this generosity allows us to serve many more," Elizondo said.

The LDS Church said it has committed $6 million to refugee resettlement in the United States over the past several months.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said its migration office resettles about 30 percent of the refugees who arrive in the United States each year.

"Their initial needs are many: food, clothing, shelter, employment, English language training, and orientation to a new community and culture," said the Migration & Refugee Services office in a description of their work.

"Resettling refugees provides an extraordinary opportunity for countless Americans to take an active part in offering a caring and supportive environment for refugees as they begin new lives. Without volunteers and resources from the community and parishes, MRS and its affiliated diocesan resettlement offices would be unable to accomplish the tremendous task of giving refugees new hope and the opportunity to begin again."

Elizondo said last November he was "disturbed... by calls from both federal and state officials for an end to the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the United States."

"These refugees are fleeing terror themselves — violence like we have witnessed in Paris. They are extremely vulnerable families, women, and children who are fleeing for their lives. We cannot and should not blame them for the actions of a terrorist organization," the bishop said.

"Moreover, refugees to this country must pass security checks and multiple interviews before entering the United States—more than any arrival to the United States. It can take up to two years for a refugee to pass through the whole vetting process. We can look at strengthening the already stringent screening program, but we should continue to welcome those in desperate need."

Elizondo stressed that "as a great nation, the United States must show leadership during this crisis and bring nations together to protect those in danger and bring an end to the conflicts in the Middle East."