This morning in the Holy See Press Office Cardinal Antonio Maria Veglio, president of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples, and Archbishop Joseph Kalathiparambil, secretary of the same dicastery, presented the Holy Father’s Message for World Day of Migrants and Refugees, published today.
Cardinal Veglio explained that not only does the Day fit naturally into the context of the Year of Mercy, the point of reference for the Church during the coming months, but also in view of the current situation in which migration is assuming immense proportions and leading to tragedies throughout the world, it must be recognized that this phenomenon in all its forms challenges us to respond.
It is hoped that this year the Day, celebrated in all the Church and at both national and diocesan levels as the Jubilee Day of Migrants and Refugees, will therefore provide a concrete opportunity for all the Christian community to reflect, pray and act. “Migration especially affects the local Churches, as they are closest to migrants and refugees. There we meet these people face to face and it is at that level that our encounter can truly assume a dimension nature”.
“We cannot remain indifferent or in silence when faced with so many tragedies. We cannot fail to express our heartfelt pain before so many situations of suffering – they are men and women, often poor, hungry, persecuted, spiritually or physically wounded, exploited or victims of war – who seek a better life. … This is the basis of the theme chosen for the Holy Father for the next Day”, added Cardinal Veglio, who went on to outline the issues in the Pope’s document that challenge both individuals and the community as a whole.
Firstly, the text refers to the humanitarian crisis in the context of migration that affects not only Europe, but the entire world. This fact, as the Holy Father writes, “necessitates deeper study of the situation to enable us to better understand the causes of migrations, along with the consequences both in the destinations and from a global perspective, and therefore to face the phenomenon in the correct way ensuring the protection of human dignity”.
Secondly, the Message highlights the question of identity. “The arrival of immigrants in a new social context requires a process of mutual adaptation to the new situation”, the Cardinal observed. “Integration in the new society also requires inner strength demanding changes in elements of one’s identity to adapt to the new social and cultural context”. Similarly, the arrival of migrants “seriously challenges the various societies who receive them, so that the process of insertion and integration respects values that make us ever more humane and help us to live a balanced relationship with God, others and creation , but at the same time allow migrants to contribute to the growth of the society that receive them. The Holy Father invites us to find a delicate balance between the two extremes, avoiding the creation of a cultural ghetto on the one hand, and any trace of extreme nationalism or xenophobia on the other”.
The Message also highlights the theme of welcome, emphasizing that the Church has a prophetic word in encouraging welcome, that resonates in the various acts and works that the Christian communities carry out.
Faced with these problems and questions, the Pope affirms that “the response of the Gospel is mercy”. Mercy leads to solidarity with others and to cultivating a culture of encounter; “it challenges all of us so that everyone is willing not only to give but also to receive from others, and tends to build communion and unity”.
“The complexity of migration makes it difficult to separate the different political legislative, humanitarian and security aspects”, emphasized the prelate. “The perspective of the culture of encounter implies looking at the migrant as a whole, with all of his or her aspects. … In this way the presence of migrants becomes not a mere juxtaposition of different cultures in the same territory, but rather an encounter of peoples, where the proclamation of the Gospel inspires and encourages routes towards the renewal and transformation of all humanity”.
The third issue considered by the Holy Father in his Message is the defense of every person’s right to live with dignity, remaining in his or her homeland. … Every person has the right to emigrate – it is one of the fundamental rights ascribed to every human being. But beyond and before this, the right not to have to emigrate should be reaffirmed – that is, to be in the condition of being able to remain in one’s homeland. First of all this implies the need to help those countries migrants and refugees leave behind. … The need for a response is not limited only to the war against smugglers or the tightening of immigration legislation, but must also consider that those who enjoy prosperity should ensure that the poor and needy (both individuals and nations) have the means with which to respond to their needs and to undertake a path of development through an equitable distribution of the planet’s resources”.
Finally, the Pope mentions the responsibility of the media and the importance of those who contribute to “unmasking false prejudices regarding migration, presenting it as truthfully as possible”.