By Leela Ramdeen, Chair, CCSJ & Director, CREDI
World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2020 (WDMR) will be observed next Sunday, September 27. The theme of Pope Francis’ message this year is: Like Jesus Christ, forced to flee reminding us that the young Jesus and His family were displaced persons and refugees, forced to flee to Egypt to save Jesus.
See CCSJ’s Parish Link Newsletter (http://rcsocialjusticett.org/2.0/2020/08/19/parishlink/)
We have seen the result of the fire that gutted Moria, the largest migrant camp in Europe on the Greek island of Lesbos, where nearly 13,000 persons are now without shelter. Migrants from more than 70 different countries lived there, and some had been diagnosed with COVID-19.
In his message, Pope Francis urges us to discover the reality of internally displaced. He focuses on the need for pastoral care for them, recognising that their suffering has only been further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Vatican News stated: “The issue of migrants and refugees has been one of the focal points of the pontificate of Pope Francis. This year he has devoted his Message to the millions of men, women and children who are internally displaced by conflict, poverty and climate change. He calls for attention and new policies for the world’s growing number of internally displaced people, and embraces all who are suffering precariousness, abandonment, marginalization and rejection as a result of Covid-19.
The Pope pointed out that ‘Situations of conflict and humanitarian emergencies, aggravated by climate change, are increasing the numbers of displaced persons and affecting people already living in a state of dire poverty.’
According to the 2020 Global Report on Internal Displacement, conflict and disasters triggered 33.4 million new internal displacements across 145 countries and territories in 2019. The Pope noted that conflict, violence, and disasters continue to uproot millions of people from their homes every year.
He said the severity of the global crisis caused by the pandemic has ‘relegated to the bottom of national political agendas those urgent international efforts essential to saving lives.’
Reminding Christians that we are called to see the face of Christ in the faces of those who suffer, he urges Christians to respond to this pastoral challenge with the four verbs indicated in his Message for this Day in 2018: welcome, protect, promote and integrate.”
The six sub-themes in his Message are expressed by six pairs of verbs that, he said, “deal with very practical actions and are linked together in a relationship of cause and effect”:
Pope Francis concludes his message with a prayer that reflects the theme of the Message. CCSJ is asking the Faithful to say this prayer daily in advance of WDMR on September 27.
As we pray, let’s also remember the many migrants and refugees who have come to our shores seeking peace, and who face many challenges.
Let’s promote a culture of encounter/solidarity/inclusivity.
Happy Republic Day on September 24.
World Day of Migrants and Refugees
Father, you entrusted to Saint Joseph what you held most precious: the child Jesus and his Mother, in order to protect them from the dangers and threats of the wicked.
Grant that we may experience his protection and help. May he, who shared in the sufferings of those who flee from the hatred of the powerful, console and protect all our brothers and sisters driven by war, poverty and necessity to leave their homes and their lands to set out as refugees for safer places.
Help them, through the intercession of Saint Joseph, to find the strength to persevere, give them comfort in sorrows and courage amid their trials.
Grant to those who welcome them some of the tender love of this just and wise father, who loved Jesus as a true son and sustained Mary at every step of the way.
May he, who earned his bread by the work of his hands, watch over those who have seen everything in life taken away and obtain for them the dignity of a job and the serenity of a home.
We ask this through Jesus Christ, your Son, whom Saint Joseph saved by fleeing to Egypt, and trusting in the intercession of the Virgin Mary, whom he loved as a faithful husband in accordance with your will. Amen.