Caritas Internationalis, an international confederation of Catholic aid agencies, is launching a “Week of Global Action” as part of its Share the Journey campaign “to make a positive difference to everyone with experience of migration.”
The Share the Journey campaign, which began last September, is inspired by Pope Francis’ call to join the “culture of encounter,” with the goal of “increasing the spaces and opportunities for migrants and local communities to meet, talk, and take action.” Caritas says, “We must be welcoming and speak up for the rights of migrants.” The initiative encourages local communities, beginning with parishes, to undertake concrete actions of solidarity, such as sharing lunch with migrants and refugees, and speaking out for their rights.
To emphasize the importance of the Share the Journey campaign, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, Archbishop of Manila and President of Caritas Internationalis, spoke with Alessandro Gisotti of Vatican News.
A dramatic international phenomenon
“Migration is a fact of life,” Cardinal Tagle said, “But in these recent years, it has become a dramatic international phenomenon.” Both Pope Francis and Caritas Internationalis, he continued, “have this advocacy of welcoming and accompanying migrants, first because they are human beings, and through our humane treatment of the migrants, we want to show the world that this is not just a political economic problem, it is a human problem.”
A second motive for that advocacy, Cardinal Tagle said, is the Christian Faith. Israel was a migrant people; and, in the New Testament, Jesus was close to outsiders. “He even said, if you do this to the least of My brothers and sisters, if you welcome the stranger. You’re welcoming Me.” So there are both human and spiritual reasons for efforts to assist minors.
Extra courage and motivation
Asked about his hopes for the campaign, Cardinal Tagle said, “We are very happy to note that in many countries now, where the episcopal conferences, and the national caritas organizations have picked up the Shared Journey campaign, it is slowly spreading.” He said he was happy to see that wherever local Caritas organizations are found, new programs are moving ahead: “I am very pleased to say that bishops and local caritas organizations, even on the parish level, have been given extra courage and motivation by the campaign.”
“Go and meet a migrant”
Cardinal Tagle also spoke about the challenge presented by those who fear migrants, and governments that raise walls to stop immigration. It is clear, he said, that the migration issue is very complex; “and so we understand the various reactions.”
But he encouraged those who are concerned about migration to “go and meet a migrant.” Sometimes, he said, “we discuss migration as an idea, as a concept, but it is different when you see a migrant, when you hear their stories, when you touch their hands. And then you realize their stories could be your story. You could see yourself in them.”
Finally, he invited everyone to remember their own histories, to not forget the migrants in their own family histories. “If we only remember how our forefathers were accepted to start a new life in other countries, maybe we would be a bit more open.”
With thanks to Vatican News.