(Source: CD/COMECE, Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union)
“Let’s welcome migrants with humanity, fraternity and solidarity. Let’s give them a place at our table”, said Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich SJ, President of COMECE, on the eve of the 106th World Day of Migrants and Refugees, which will be celebrated on Sunday 27 September 2020.
“Migrants and refugees are our brothers and sisters. They are sons and daughters of the same God and Jesus died for them”, Cardinal Hollerich, who is also the Archbishop of Luxembourg, said in a video message.
“In Luxembourg we have the very positive experience of migrants from Italy and Portugal. Let’s welcome migrants in the same way, in humanity and fraternity, the migrants of today. Let’s give them a place at our table.
“Let’s welcome them with solidarity and generosity, so we will not only be Christians who say ‘yes’ to the Lord, but who also act according to the will of the Father”, the cardinal insisted.
– The Pope’s message: “Jesus is present in each refugee”
In the context of the dramatic events occurring in different areas of the world regarding forced movements of people, Pope Francis devoted his message for the 106th World Day of Migrants and Refugees to internally displaced persons, “an often unseen tragedy exacerbated by the global Covid-19 crisis”.
In this regard, the Holy Father calls on all governments and on all of us “not to forget the many other crisis that bring suffering to so many people”.
“Jesus is present in each refugee fleeing from hunger, war and other grave dangers in search of security and of a dignified life for themselves and for their families. We are called to see the face of Christ who pleads with us to help”, the Pope stressed.
– Welcoming, protecting, promoting and integrating
Already two years ago, in a similar message, Pope Francis urged all of us to respond to this pastoral challenge by welcoming, protecting, promoting and integrating migrants and refugees, including the internally displaced persons.
In our commitment to the weakest, the Pope proposes we include the following practical orientations:
- to know in order to understand;
- to be close in order to serve;
- to listen in order to be reconciled;
- to share in order to grow;
- to be involved in order to promote and;
- to cooperate in order to build.
On May 5 2020, the Holy See’s Migrants and Refugees Section of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development has issued the document “Pastoral Orientations on Internally Displaced People” in order to inspire and encourage the pastoral work of the Church in this specific area.
In its regular dialogue with the EU institutions, COMECE highlights the need to consider migrants and refugees as persons and not as numbers, people with dignity, fundamental rights, “each of them [with] a name, a face, and a story, as well as an inalienable right to live in peace and to aspire to a better future for their sons and daughters”.
– Bishops call on EU “to prioritise the protection of human dignity and the promotion of the common good” in new migration pact
In the meantime, following the adoption of the new EU Pact on Migration and Asylum proposed by the European Commission on September 23, the Bishops of the European Union encouraged the EU and its Member States “to act in concrete solidarity and responsibility towards migrants and refugees”.
Considering the “dysfunctionalities” of the current migration and asylum systems and the dramatic situations that have recently affected many migrants and their families in Europe, COMECE welcomed the initiative of the European Commission to set out a new and comprehensive framework with the aim of creating a fair and predictable migration management mechanism to rebuild trust between the Member States.
In view of the future negotiations, COMECE encouraged the European Parliament and the Council “to prioritise the protection of human dignity and the promotion of the common good”.
The Bishops urges the EU and its Member States “to recognize migrants and refugees as persons with dignity and fundamental rights, and not as numbers“.
In the words of Pope Francis, migrants have “a name, a face, and a story, as well as an inalienable right to live in peace and to aspire to a better future for their sons and daughters”, COMECE recalled.
The proposed EU package, the EU Bishops said, includes “a number of positive developments” such as the special treatment at the border for unaccompanied minors, quicker reply to asylum applicants and clarification of their rights and duties, access of migrants to the benefits of the European Pillar of Social Rights, paving the way for long term residence.
The EU and its Member States “must protect asylum seekers and their families, fulfilling the obligation of non-refoulment to the country where they were at risk and supporting their resilience and full inclusion in the hosting society”, COMECE stressed.
The clear reinforcement of the return policy included in the EU package should be balanced – according to COMECE – “with a more generous approach towards social and economic migrants, opening broader legal pathways for their regular access to the European Union in a spirit of fraternal hospitality”.
Regarding the relocation of asylum seekers across the EU, it is unclear how the mechanism will be implemented, as the proposed system is highly dependent on the decision of each Member State.
Concerning this issue, COMECE calls on the EU and its Member States “to improve and increase the support to those countries that geographically are more exposed to high influx of migrants and refugees”
As stated by Pope Francis, we have to prevent the Mediterranean Sea turning into a vast cemetery. Therefore COMECE reiterated that “rescuing people in distress at sea is a moral and legal obligation that should respected by all State and non-State actors”.