19 January 2018
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  • » 11/24/2017, 16.45


    Migrants are not just Pope Francis’s obsession

    Bernardo Cervellera

    In his 2018 Message for World Peace Day, the pontiff cites John Paul II and Benedict XVI, who called for openness towards migrants and refugees and action to build the world as a "common home". Migrants are not just an economic burden, but are also players in "building peace", full of "courage, skills, energy, and aspirations." By visiting Romani people, Pope Paul VI showed the way.

    Vatican City (AsiaNews) – In his Message for the World Day of Peace of 1 January 2018, released today, Pope Francis reiterated the urgency of looking at this sign of the times, i.e. today’s mass migrations.

    In his message, the pontiff calls on people to see this phenomenon, which "will continue for the future", not as "a threat" but as an "as an opportunity to build peace".

    For Pope Francis, the "workshops of peace" in the world are built not only with those who accept refugees and migrants, but also with the latter, who are players in building peace.

    People who flee wars, destruction, hunger, disasters and despair are not only a burden, a political or economic problem; they do not reach countries “emptyhanded. They bring their courage, skills, energy and aspirations, as well as the treasures of their own cultures; and in this way, they enrich the lives of the nations that receive them."

    This is why the pontiff slams the "rhetoric decrying the risks posed to national security or the high cost of welcoming new arrivals,” which “demeans the human dignity due to all as sons and daughters of God."

    What is more, both refusal and acceptance, sometimes hide political ends and deviant interests with respect to building peace.

    There are politicians who sow hate to boost their electoral base. And there are politicians and countries that welcome only wealthy migrants, or show benevolence just to fill the vacuum created by the demographic winter that they themselves have contributed to create.

    For this reason, in his message, Francis refers to the ‘Twenty Action Points’ that the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development laid out in order to influence the two global pacts on migrants and refugees that are before the United Nations.

    With their suggestions, they force to move away from the generic sentiment of welcoming or using refugees and migrants in favour of precise steps in the fields of law and politics.

    The theme of the 2018 Message for Peace follows in many respects the Message for World Migrant and Refugee Day, released last August, reiterating a "strategy combining four actions: welcoming, protecting, promoting and integrating."

    Francis’s persistence on this issue has led some to say that "this pope has a fixation with migrants". If this is the case, such an "obsession" is not Francis’s alone, but is shared by John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

    The Message quotes them here and there in perfect alignment with what the current pope is saying. Going further back, let us not forget that Paul VI, at the end of Vatican II, went to Pomezia (near Rome) to meet a group of Romani, calling them "restless travellers" and "perpetual pilgrims."

    Likewise, Saint John Paul II is quoted in the Message, saying: “If the ‘dream’ of a peaceful world is shared by all, if the refugees’ and migrants’ contribution is properly evaluated, then humanity can become more and more a universal family and our earth a true ‘common home’.”

    Indeed, everyone's commitment and conversion are important, be they migrant or host.

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