At a recent news conference, the Vatican denounced UK immigration rules as it announced plans for the 107th World Day of Migrants and Refugees. The event, set to take place on September 26, will be around the theme ‘Toward an Even Wider We’, with the Migrants and Refugee section at the Vatican spearheading the campaign.
Speakers at the news conference addressed the challenges immigrants and refugees face, whether at the US southern border with Mexico or the UK, highlighting specifically how the coronavirus pandemic and hostile government policies have exacerbated the challenges they have to deal with.
In a video message for the launch of a media campaign for the 107th World Day of Migrants and Refugees, Pope Francis said: “We are all in the same boat and we are called to commit ourselves so that no more walls separate us, so that there are no longer others but only one we, a we as wide as us, an us as great as all of humanity.”
As well as an address from Pope Francis, the video featured reflections from Bishop Mark Seitz of El Paso, on the US-Mexico border, who spoke about his own experiences of accompanying refugees and migrants seeking entry into the US and facing family separation and economic struggles.
Meanwhile, Cardinal Michael F. Czerny, who is undersecretary of the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Holy See’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, said: “Every month our section will publish a batch of materials and resources so that every diocese, every parish, every organization can prepare for the day, month by month and step by step.”
“Catholic clergy and the faithful will have access to spiritual and theological reflections aimed at promoting concern for immigrants,” Czerny added.
During the news conference, speakers denounced recent rules brought in by Boris Johnson that seek to regulate the flow of immigrants into the country.
Suffering of the world’s poorest
Speaking remotely at the news conference, Auxiliary Bishop Paul McAleenan of Westminster, England, said: “The decision of the United Kingdom to reduce its aid budget compounds the suffering of the world’s poorest. Meanwhile, decisions made by countries to address climate change or the arms trade have an impact on the migration flows throughout the world.
McAleenan condemned policies that seek to divide immigrants based on their economic possibilities. He said: “The aim of the church is to welcome, protect and promote all, knowing that human life and well-being are at risk, not national security.”
Sarah Teather, director of the Jesuit refugee service in the UK, who also spoke virtually at the news conference, criticised the UK’s asylum system. She said: “The UK’s asylum system builds walls of suspicion that lead to the destitution and exploitation of migrants.”
Teather also condemned what she described as the UK’s ‘aggressive and closed politics’, but said that she has hope for the future thanks to the commitment of individuals in everyday life.
She said: “In small, concrete ways, we can all participate in this shared project to recompose a common human family. For there are treasures to be found when we strive together to break down walls that divide us. The dream of one human family is a dream worth realizing.”
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