A cardinal has called for a “change in mentality” among Catholics on the subject of migration, saying the widespread human mobility in our world today is “not a crime, but a right” and “not a problem, but an opportunity”.

– For Catholics, “my home is the world; my family, humanity”

“We must shift from seeing migration as a problem to conceiving it as a phenomenon that is the consequence of different problems; from seeing it as a crime, as something illegal, to conceiving it as a right; from seeing it as a problem to conceiving it as an opportunity to live solidarity and brotherhood. This is important for those who come to our Masses”, Cardinal Cristóbal López Romero said July 22 in a forum on migration and human mobility.

That forum – online, due to the coronavirus restrictions – was organised by the Spanish Bishops’ Conference Commission for Migration and the Institute for Migration Studies of the Comillas Pontifical University in Madrid.

Picking up on the idea of migration being a chance to live brother- and sisterhood, Cardinal López – the Spanish-born Archbishop of Rabat, in Morocco – said that the evangelical mandate for Christians of universal solidarity can be summed up in the phrase: “My home is the world; my family, humanity”.

“We must strengthen this awareness of universal brotherhood, because the one who stands beside me is my brother, as the Document on Human Fraternity signed by Muslims and Catholics in Abu Dhabi shows”, Cardinal López continued.

The prelate went on: “The challenge is to extend this mentality. As a Church and as a political community we should make every effort to enter into this optic, and not only from the theoretical point of view, but by bringing it into reality. If we consider that the world is our Common Home and that all are our brothers, from there things can change”.

– Responding to migrations, “more than what this Pope has done is almost impossible”

In terms of extending the mentality of universal human fraternity, the cardinal praised the achievements of Pope Francis, saying that with respect to working to raise awareness about migration “more than what this Pope has done is almost impossible”.

“It is not only what he says or writes. He went to Lampedusa, he visited Lesbos, he brought families to the Vatican, he created a new department… Before, it was the bases that urged those above to act, now it is the one above, the Pope, who constantly urges us to act at the bottom”, López affirmed.

– An appeal to overcome “flimsy, short-sighted and selfish nationalisms”

The cardinal also appealed to politicians and governments to “overcome flimsy, short-sighted and selfish nationalisms” and to embrace instead a global vision not centred on ourselves.

As an example of that global vision indispensable in our age of migrations, López offered Morocco and the two regularisations of ‘irregular’ immigrants the country’s authorities have carried out that have seen more than 50,000 people receive papers to reside legally in the country.

Cardinal López went on to praise the Moroccan government for its “excellent management” of the coronavirus pandemic, which has also seen the local Church pick up much of the social protection slack.

“In our parishes, we have been the ones who have welcomed and assisted the migrants with food, with money to pay the rent, with help for medicines… We managed to solve some difficult problems, but we weren’t able able to do more because we ourselves were confined. We worked mainly with people in a migration situation. The government knows that we work in this field and, in a way, it left the field free for us”, Cardinal López concluded.

More stories on Novena on the Church’s care for migrants:

Holy See renews appeal to international community to open more humanitarian corridors for refugees

Pope deplores conditions in Libyan migrant detention camps: “You cannot imagine the hell that people are living there”

Cardinal Montenegro denounces on anniversary of Pope’s trip to Lampedusa: “There is a Europe that is afraid of Africa”

Caritas Internationalis pleads for “courageous” solutions to plight of refugees, “victims of violence, fear and an unjust system”


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