October 4, 2017 ~ The Feast of St. Francis of Assisi
There are few in the world, including Muslims, who have not heard of this great, but so simple saint. He’s known often for his friendship with animals, particularly of the Wolf of Gubio whom he tamed .
But today I want to talk with you about an action another Francis has taken that is quite significant.
I’m referring to Pope Francis, of course, who has launched a two-year educational, prayer-oriented, social-conscience raising program about the worldwide refugee and immigration crisis. Francis, as so many of us know, is not afraid to go where angels fear to tread.
He’s initiating a program entitled “Share the Journey”. The 2-year Caritas Internationalis campaign aims to promote the strengthening of relationships between migrants, refugees and communities.
It is Caritas’ response to Pope Francis’ call for a culture of encounter and to see people on the move with open hearts and minds.
The campaign was launched on Wednesday September 27th in the Vatican and by all members of the Caritas family across the globe.
Caritas Internationalis President, Cardinal Luis Tagle of the Philippines stated that the campaign is asking people to see the real people behind the numbers and statistics. (Caritas Internationalis is a confederation of 165 Catholic relief, development and social service organisations operating in over 200 countries and territories worldwide. Collectively and individually their claimed mission is to work to build a better world, especially for the poor and oppressed.)
Cardinal Tagle explains that the primary objective of the campaign is to ‘return to the Bible’, to the spirituality of the Word of God “where God always had a soft spot in his heart for the most vulnerable” and amongst the most vulnerable, he says, are the migrants, the foreigners.
“Jesus himself identifies his presence with that of the stranger: ‘when I was a stranger you visited me’ Tagle recalls.
So, with this campaign what is important, he says, is to remind the Christian world – and all of humanity – of this important message.
The Cardinal points out that the campaign of action and awareness-raising will promote the Social Teaching of the Church and it will put “a human face” on migrants who are often seen as mere numbers and statistics.
It embraces the call and the words of Pope Francis “to welcome, to protect, to promote the integral human development and to integrate” forced migrants and refugees.
“Through this campaign we hope to correct some negative myths about migrants and migrationand also to address some of the roots of forced migration” as well as influence the Global Compact to make migration safe for people, Tagle says.
Pointing out that migration has always been part of human history, Tagle says recent trends force us to look at the causes of forced migration, to be aware of the violence to which many are subjected and of the new forms of slavery that have stemmed from the phenomenon.
Especially concerning, he says, is the vulnerability of young people.
“If we do not address this humanitarian crisis with the help of all governments and communities we will see generations of people with their hopes of a future destroyed” he says.
What the Church and Caritas are asking for is a change of mentality, “a conversion”.
Instead of demonizing migrants and building walls, we must create the basis for a culture of encounter which will ultimately destroy the walls of prejudice.
How large is this crisis, you may wonder? Here are some statistics from the UN High Commission for Refugees: 55% of the world’s refugees come from three countries: Syria 5.5m, Afghanistan 2.5m and South Sudan 1.4m.
Who hosts them? Europe 17% / Americas 16% / Asia 11% / Middle East 26% / Africa 30% / Ethiopia, Uganda, Iran, Lebanon, Pakistan and Turkey take the most refugees. There have been 65.6 people forcibly removed from their homes. 22.5 million are refugees, over half of whom are under the age of 18. The UNHCR says we are now witnessing the highest displacement of persons on record. 10 million are stateless! Meaning they are denied any kind of services: job, health care, education for their children and freedom of movement. 28,300 are forcefully removed from their homes because of conflict or persecution every day.
And yet, President Trump has reduced the immigrants to be received onto our shores to less that 50,ooo and has caused fear in the DACA young people, not knowing what their status is. And so many more of our immigrant families who’ve served here for years are being ripped apart cruelly and needlessly.
Now, can you understand why Pope Francis has begun asked us to SHARE THEIR JOURNEY?
You must be very sad at the cruelty that governments
perpetrate against their own people!
Soothe the pain of your suffering children throughout the world,
including those in our own country.
Dearest Lady, hear the cries and dry the tears of so many children.
Allow those of us who are safe in our homes
in some small way to share to share the journey with them,
at least in our daily prayer.
This we ask through Jesus our Lord. Amen.
And in honor of the Big Francis ~ St Francis of Assisi, here’s Angelina singing Make me a channel of Your Peace as she sings it from Assisi. Click here. Be sure to enter full screen and turn up your speakers.
Here are the resources that were posted on my Diocese of Orlando website for the coming week. It allows you to take a look at the stories of several different refugees or immigrants. ( Scroll down for the stories below the leaders’ page.) Click here.
And here a the reference for the information from UNHRC: Figures at a glance: Click here.