“Peace to all people and to all nations on earth!” Peace is the “profound aspiration for everyone. . . and especially for those who most keenly suffer its absence -- the over 250 million migrants worldwide, of whom 22.5 million are refugees -- who risk their lives on a journey that is often long and perilous, endure hardships and suffering, and encounter fences and walls built to keep them far from their goal.”
In his World Day of Peace message, Pope Francis asks us, the people of the world, to view the current increase in migration and the refugees as an “opportunity to build peace” by “fostering solidarity, fraternity, and the desire for goodness, truth and justice.”
How might my own views about migrants have been unconsciously shaped by political and media messages?
What steps can we take – individually, communally, and societally - to compare and contrast these political and media messages with the message of Christ and the teachings of the Church? What steps can I or we take to shed the Light of the Gospel on these matters?
FOUR MILEPOSTS FOR ACTION
Pope Francis goes on to say that offering refugees, migrants and victims of human trafficking an opportunity to find the peace requires a strategy that combines four actions: welcoming, protecting, promoting and integrating.
WELCOMING - expanding legal pathways for entry in a manner that also “balances our concerns about national security with concern for fundamental human rights."
PROTECTING – "defending and promoting the dignity of those who flee real dangers in search of asylum and security, and to prevent their being exploited.”
PROMOTING - supporting the integral human development of migrants and refugees, especially providing access to all levels of education for children and young people to “better equip them to encounter others and to foster a spirit of dialogue rather than rejection or confrontation.”
INTEGRATING - allowing refugees and migrants to “participate fully in the life of the society that welcomes them.”
As a society and as individuals, how can we balance legitimate concerns for safety and national security with our commitment to human dignity and fundamental rights?
How can we challenge ourselves to move beyond sympathy for migrants and refugees to active participation in the Pope’s four-fold strategy of welcoming, protecting, promoting, and integrating?
TWO U.N. COMPACTS IN 2018
In his address Pope Francis calls on the United Nations to “draft and approve two Global Compacts, one for safe, orderly and regular migration and the other for refugees.” He hopes the U.N. will do so in 2018 thus providing a framework for policy proposals and practical measures that advance the peace-building process. “Only in this way" he says, "can the realism required of international politics avoid surrendering to cynicism and to the globalization of indifference.”
Click here to read Pope Francis' entire World Day of Peace message.
LOCAL CATHOLIC IMMIGRATION WORK
The Immigration Assistance Program provides assistance to clients with immigration needs by providing low-cost, fee-for-service legal assistance in all phases of immigration and naturalization proceedings, representation in deportation or exclusion proceedings before the Immigration Court, and assistance in any matter involving immigration and citizenship.
Click here to read about our Archdiocesan Catholic Charities Immigration Assistance Program and see how you can help.
Unity Square is a community organizing and social justice initiative of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Metuchen that works to empower community members and catalyze change in the poorest residential neighborhood of New Brunswick, NJ. In so doing, Unity Square addresses a diverse set of issues, including economic development, employment, civic participation, crime and safety, immigrants’ rights, and tenants’ rights.
Click here to read about Unity Square.
A PRAYER FOR IMMIGRANTS BY POPE FRANCIS
Merciful God, we pray to you for all the men, women and children who have died after leaving their homelands in search of a better life. Though many of their graves bear no name, to you each one is known, loved and cherished. May we never forget them, but honor their sacrifice.
Pope Francis, “A Remembering of the Victims of Migration,” Meeting with the People of Lesvos and with the Catholic Community, 16 April 2016.