Syrian refugees on strike at Budapest railway station, 2015

Portuguese Church, European Bishops insist on “obligation” to welcome refugees

“Christian communities have the obligation to demonstrate that it is possible to live reception, protection, integration and promotion with refugees and migrants”, the director of the Portuguese Catholic Migration Society (OCPM) has said.

Driving the news

Eugenia Quaresma spoke to Ecclesia about today’s celebration of the World Day of Migrants and Refugees.

“The first appeal is to our communities”, Quaresma said.

“We have an evangelical mandate that invites us to welcome, which speaks of protection, which tells us that in every nation there are disciples of Christ to fulfill this mandate”.

Go deeper

The director of the OCPM said that “in taking care of migrants and refugees, each person also takes care of themselves and their fears, since by knowing one’s own fears and overcoming them it’s possible to promote acceptance and encounter”.

Quaresma said that with today’s commemoration the Church issues a “very strong appeal” to consider the way “society lives humanity”.

“The emphasis is on human exploitation”, she explained.

She added that today is a chance to examine “the responsibility of everyone, not only the citizen or the consumer, but also of companies” in scourges such as human trafficking.

Related:

Nun defender of migrants: “Borders are always walls: they must be torn down”

Why it matters

Pope Francis chose as the theme for his message for the World Day this year “It’s not just about migrants”.

Related:  Leaked questionnaire on potential bishops points up shortcomings in Vatican appointments process

The Migrants and Refugees section of the Vatican Dicastery for Integral Human Development has been developing a series of sub-themes for the day, including “It’s also about our fears”.

“The theme is very beautiful, partly because of the pedagogical way in which it was presented to us, starting from the biblical message”, Quaresma said.

“Then there is a message of the magisterium and therefore practical examples of how the Word can be put into practice in everyday life”, she explained.

The director of the OCPM insisted that the influx of migrants and refugees can be an “opportunity for growth”.

“It’s up to us” to get to know the stranger among us, “looking, listening and understanding the reasons” why they have come to our countries, Quaresma explained.

“Things change when look at migrants and refugees as brothers and sisters, as people who can help us build a better society”, she added.

According to United Nations numbers, there are 880,188 immigrants presently in Portugal, some 8.55% of that country’s population.

Related:  Holy See denounces plight of world's 40 million victims of trafficking or exploitation, 10 million of whom are children

54% of migrants in Portugal are women, and 46% are men.

Most migrants in Portugal come from Angola (18.19%), Brazil (15.62%) and France (10.57%).

Portugal occupies the 64th place in the ranking of those countries in the world that have taken in the most migrants and refugees.

Don’t miss:

Spanish archbishop says Europe has “inescapable duty” to welcome migrants and refugees

For the record

For its part, the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE) made the most of the World Day of Migrants and Refugees today to call on the European Union “to design and implement person- and family-centered migration and asylum policies, while developing inclusive social policies that leave none behind”.

Related:  Portuguese Catholics blast cardinal, bishop for "disappointing and undesirable conservatism"

COMECE lamented “how migrants, refugees, displaced persons and victims of trafficking have become emblems of exclusion” in our world today.

The Bishops’ Commission also reiterated “the importance of approaching the migration challenge considering migrants and refugees as people with names, faces and personal experiences and not as numbers”.

Related

Share this: