The challenge of migration: indifference must not prevail
Vatican City, 23 September 2014 (VIS) – A press conference was held in the Holy See Press Office this morning, in which Cardinal Antonio Maria Veglio, president of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples, along with Archbishop Joseph Kalathiparambil, secretary of the same dicastery, presented the Holy Father’s message for World Day of Migrants and Refugees, which will be held on Sunday 18 January 2015 on the theme, “A Church without frontiers, Mother to all”.
Cardinal Veglio explained that the Message is dated 3 September, the date of the centenary of the election of Pope Benedict XV, and highlighted the importance Pope Francis has attached to establishing an annual day for increasing awareness of the phenomenon of migration. He also emphasised that the Church has faced ever new and challenging situations during her millennial history, and that migration poses fresh challenges not only on account of its magnitude but also for the various social, economic, political, cultural and religious problems it gives rise to.
“The biblical commandment to love one’s neighbour, to open the door to him as though welcoming God, may come into conflict with certain problematic situations, for instance when immigrants are linked to irregular or delinquent behaviour”. Cardinal Veglio posed the question, “How should the Church respond?”, when faced with such a complex situation, and went on to outline the three recommendations offered by the Pope. These are: the renouncement of oneself, collaboration between the different entities and institutions that work for immigrants, and the humanisation of conditions for immigrants, intensifying efforts to promote a gradual reduction in the root causes of immigration, that cause entire peoples to abandon their homelands.
Archbishop Kalathiparambil went on to consider the theme of multiculturalism in contemporary society, which is in constant evolution. He raised key issues related to forced immigration, explaining that this takes the form of fleeing for salvation, often involving dangerous or life-threatening journeys which may nonetheless offer the only option for reaching a country where protection and the possibility of a dignified life can be found. The prelate highlighted that since many people in these conditions cannot meet the stringent requirements for international travel as they often do not possess, and have no means of obtaining valid documents, they become “vulnerable and defenceless, in search of protection, and easy prey to smugglers and traffickers”.
He remarked that “to respond effectively to the recognition of the need for protection, to restore human dignity to refugees and treat the causes of forced mobility”, States are required to cooperate in a spirit of international solidarity, and added that the Church must make efforts to ensure that “the dignity and the centrality of the human person is protected, promoting solidarity and dialogue between peoples”. He concluded by emphasising that today’s challenge is to resist becoming “used to the human tragedy experienced by forcibly displaced persons, and not to allow indifference, ‘the weakness of our human nature’, to prevail or to give rise to the temptation to be Christians who keep a safe distance from the wounds of the Lord”.