Catholic bishops in the United States pledge to help refugees of all faiths

Catholic bishops in the United States confronted the growing anti-Islam hostility in the wake of the Paris attacks by pledging to continue to offer shelter to refugees, no matter what their faith.

Resettlement programmes run by the Church will continue to aid refugees fleeing violence and other social ills, in spite of demands that borders should be closed to all save Christians, Catholic News Service reported.

Archbishop of Louisville Joseph Kurtz on the left, with Archbishop of New York Timothy Dolan and Monsignor Ronny JenkinsReuters

Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, told reporters at the bishops' annual general assembly that the Church's response is focused on people in need of food, shelter and safety and not their particular faith.

He said: "We are always open to helping families who come into the United States in need of help. We have that tradition of doing it and we're going to contribute."

Aid for refugees and immigrants is offered under government contracts. New refugees are vetted by government agencies before church agencies are involved.

Archbishop Kurtz, who had met President Obama at the White House to discuss immigration on the day the attacks took place, Friday 13 of November, said: "Our efforts are going to be to reach out to people and to serve them. My hope would be that the church would continue to be able, within the law, to help those families."

He was speaking after concerns were raised about refugees from Syria being resettled in the United States after the Paris attacks left 129 people dead and more than 300 wounded.

Earlier, the bishops pledged prayers for those who suffered in the attacks in Paris. In a "statement of solidarity" they said: "Terror always seeks to separate us from those we most love. Through their suffering, courage and compassion, Parisians are reminding us that the common bond of humanity is strongest when the need is greatest. We pledge our prayers for everyone who suffers from this horrific violence and our advocacy to support all those working to build just and peaceful societies.

"To the people of France, we mourn with you and honor the lives lost from several nations, including our own. To our brothers and sisters in the Church in France, your family in the United States holds you close to our hearts. May the tender and merciful love of Jesus Christ give you comfort during this great trial and lead you on a path toward healing and peace."