The director of the Jesuit Refugee Service Italy has denounced that migrants are “discarded” and “forgotten” because they are not consumers.

– Victims of the “culture of rejection” and the globalisation of indifference

Father Camillo Ripamonti, the director of the Service known in Italy as the Centro Astalli, lamented to Vatican News August 25 that a “culture of rejection has become part of our daily lives; we are considered to be consumers, and those who do not fall into the category of consumer are in the category of the discarded, the forgotten”.

“Unfortunately, migrants, from this point of view, are fully included in this culture of rejection, which means that they are not taken into account by the different governments of the various countries”, Ripamonti rued.

The Jesuit added that “the culture of rejection is the expression of globalisation and indifference towards those people who are not consumers but who need humanity”.

– The longer Europe refuses to act the more people “will continue to die”

At the Angelus from the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican on Sunday, Pope Francis drew attention to the plight of migrants, recalling that people on the move in our world are simply “looking for a better life” and warning that “the Lord will hold us to account for all of the migrants who have fallen on their journey of Hope. They were victims of the throwaway culture”.

“The Pope is grateful to God for constantly reminding us of this”, Father Ripamonti reflected, glossing those words of the pontiff’s.

How then should the world be treating migrants, refugees, asylum seekers and other displaced people in order to live up to God’s plan for humanity?

According to the Jesuit, the first step must be that the global phenomenon of human mobility be “addressed in a unified manner by all States, with policies not of closure, but of regulation and management in a more solidary manner”.

But globally today what’s happening is that instead of tackling head-on and in all their complexity the issues around migratory movements, “simplifications are preferred, which also have very immediate political implications”, Ripamonti decried.

The Jesuit said those over-simplifications around migrants and refugees can be felt on a policy level with Europe’s incapacity to organise government-sponsored search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean.

“The EU is the mirror of what individual States think, and these are concerned with their own national interests [and] internal political structures and are therefore unable to look up to the horizon of coming years in which human mobility will be an increasingly central issue”, Ripamonti denounced.

The director of the Centro Astalli warned that the longer that Europe refuses to act in a more co-ordinated and solidary fashion in the Mediterranean the more “people will… become dependent on unscrupulous traffickers on their journeys” and will “continue to die”.

That was a particularly poignant warning from the Jesuit, coming as it did just days after the Mediterranean’s worst refugee shipwreck to date off the coast of Libya in which 45 people, including children, lost their lives.

With that latest tragedy, over 300 migrants and refugees have now perished in the Mediterranean in 2020.

– Stop blaming migrants and refugees for COVID-19 outbreaks

Speaking to Vatican News, Ripamonti had a final word of warning for those in Italy and beyond who are determined to blame migrants and refugees for increases in COVID-19 infections, especially when contagions are also being put down to people leaving and returning from Northern Hemisphere summer holidays.

Blaming migrants for coronavirus outbreaks is certainly “an instrumentalisation”, the Jesuit denounced.

But even more than that, Ripamonti warned Catholics that pinning COVID-19 spreads on displaced people is hardly in tune with the conscience on migrants and refugees that Pope Francis is constantly pushing the Church to develop.

“Focusing in on and worrying about people who flee or travel to seek better living conditions for them and their families… is not consistent with the awareness to which the Pope has called us in managing a phenomenon that calls each of us to account in terms of taking a stand, in taking on responsibility”, the Jesuit said.

More on Novena on Church responses to the tragic deaths of migrants:

Spanish-African archbishop issues powerful plea for migrants: “People have rights, borders do not; the poor have rights, money does not”

After latest shipwreck off Libya, Italian bishop decries “genocide” of migrants and refugees drowning in Mediterranean

Cardinal Czerny denounces COVID-19 has revealed world’s dependence on “shabbily treated” migrants

“One does not let any single human drown, end of discussion”: German Church refugee rescue ship sets sail in Mediterranean


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Progressive Catholic journalist, author and educator. Working on social justice, equality and Church renewal.