Pope Francis has issued a 20-point action plan to governments on refugees and migrants that it sees as a growing and systemic global problem. Amongst the Twenty Action Points, it says that the world is facing “the largest movement of displaced people in recent memory”. It says: “While massive numbers of people have been forced to leave their homes due to persecution, violence, natural disasters and the scourge of poverty, migration should nevertheless be recognised, not as a new phenomenon, but rather as a natural human response to crisis and a testament to the innate desire of every human being for happiness and a better life”.
“The UN estimates that 56 per cent of the world’s displaced people are in Africa and the Middle East – often in countries that lack the infrastructure and resources to cope with a growing population. Only 17 per cent of migrants and refugees are currently in Europe”.
This is a roadmap that will not be received well amongst the jingoistic, “America First” culture. It will be met with deep stares down long noses. It is, unfortunately, reality.
At church on Sunday, the first reading was from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah:
Thus say the Lord:
Observe what is right, do what is just; for my salvation is about to come, my justice, about to be revealed. The foreigners who join themselves to the Lord, ministering to him, loving the name of the Lord, and becoming his servants – all who keep the Sabbath free from profanation and hold to my covenant, them I will bring to my holy mountain and make joyful in my house of prayer, their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be acceptable on my altar, for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.
In Populorum Progrssio, the encyclical of Pope Paul VI on the development of peoples, he said; “the earth belongs to everyone, not to the rich.”
In Matthew, we are reminded that;
The king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.
Just as through biblical teachings, social teaching also offer no ambiguity on migrants and immigrants.
From the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops:
Because of the belief that newcomers compete for scarce resources, immigrants and refugees are at times driven away, resented, or despised. Nevertheless, the first principle of Catholic social teaching regarding immigrants is that people have the right to migrate to sustain their lives and the lives of their families. This is based on biblical and ancient Christian teaching that the goods of the earth belong to all people. While the right to private property is defended in Catholic social teaching, individuals do not have the right to use private property without regard for the common good.
Every person has an equal right to receive from the earth what is necessary for life—food, clothing, shelter. Moreover, every person has the right to education, medical care, religion, and the expression of one’s culture. In many places people live in fear, danger, or dehumanizing poverty. Clearly, it is not God’s will that some of his children live in luxury while others have nothing. In Luke’s Gospel, the rich man was condemned for living well while the poor man starved at his doorstep (Lk 16:19-31).
So, I say, without my tongue in cheek, if you hear the trumpets of nationalism or jingoism, rest assured they are blown by false converts, false Christians.
Peace be with you.
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