11/04/2017, 16.29
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Pope calls for reflection on xenophobic reactions to migrants in Christian countries

Speaking to members of the International Federation of Catholic Universities, Francis said that “it is appropriate to initiate further studies on the remote causes of forced migrations, with the aim of identifying practicable solutions also in the long term”. In universities, welcoming, protecting, promoting, and integrating newcomers are needed in the areas of research, teaching, and social promotion.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis today spoke to members of the International Federation of Catholic Universities at the conclusion of their conference entitled Refugees and Migrants in a Globalized World: Responsibilities and Responses of Universities.

In his address, the Holy Father called for reflection on the complex reality of migration, which has generated xenophobia, including in traditionally Christian countries. The aim is to welcome, protect, promote, and integrate migrants in universities in three areas: research, teaching, and social promotion. In this field, Catholic universities have played a major role. The pope also stressed the urgency of developing this field of research.

For the pontiff, “it is appropriate to initiate further studies on the remote causes of forced migrations, with the aim of identifying practicable solutions also in the long term, as it is necessary first to ensure that people have the right not to be forced to emigrate. It is equally important to reflect on the negative, sometimes discriminatory and xenophobic first reactions to migrants in countries of ancient Christian tradition, to propose paths for raising awareness.”

In response to “the global and complex reality of contemporary migration,” it is necessary “to overcome the prejudices and fears associated with limited knowledge of the migratory phenomenon.” In fact, “greater appreciation is due to the many contributions migrants and refugees bring to the societies that welcome them, as well as those that benefit their communities of origin.”

With respect to teaching, the pope said that he hoped “Catholic universities will adopt programmes aimed at promoting the education of refugees at various levels, both by the provision of distance courses for those who live in camps and centres, and through the granting of scholarships enabling their relocation. By making the most of the dense international academic network, universities can also facilitate the recognition of qualifications and professions of migrants and refugees, for their benefit and that of the societies that welcome them.”

“To respond adequately to the new migratory challenges, it is necessary to train in a specific and professional way the pastoral workers who are dedicated to the assistance of migrants and refugees: this is another pressing task for Catholic universities.”

“The area of social promotion sees the university as an institution that cares about the society in which it works, exercising first and foremost a role of critical conscience with regard to the different forms of political, economic and cultural power.”

“[U]niversities can perform their role as privileged actors also in the social field by, for example, providing incentives for student volunteering in aid programmes for refugees, asylum seekers and newly-arrived migrants.”

Finally, Francis told his audience that “All the work that you carry out in these great areas – research, teaching and social promotion – find a sure point of reference in the four milestones of the Church’s journey through the realities of contemporary migration: welcome, protection, promotion and integration”.

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