By Leela Ramdeen, Chair, CCSJ & Director, CREDI
“All migrants are entitled to equal protection of all their human rights. On this International Day, I urge leaders and people everywhere to bring the Global Compact to life, so that migration works for all”
—UN Secretary-General António Guterres
Friday, December 18 is International Migrants Day. “It is a day set aside by the UN to recognize the estimated 272 million migrants that are integral members of all our societies today… it is also a day to recognize the generosity and warmth of the host communities that have embraced newcomers arriving with little or nothing to their names.” (Guterres).
Pope Francis continues to urge the faithful and the wider world to resist the temptation “to slide into ‘the globalization of indifference,’ which he said has made persons accustomed to the suffering of others so that ‘we are no longer attentive to the world in which we live… and we are unable to care for one another.'”
He invites us “to treat migrants with acceptance and solidarity, to empathise with them and to recognize their value and human potential” (Center for Migration Studies).
Archbishop Jason Gordon has impressed upon us the need to adopt the Holy Father’s teaching that we welcome, protect, promote, and integrate migrants and refugees.
Human life is sacred, and the dignity of the human person is the foundation of a moral vision for society. To be pro-life is to be pro-all life. As Pope Francis states: “Even the weakest and most vulnerable, the sick, the old, the unborn and the poor, are masterpieces of God’s creation, made in his own image, destined to live forever, and deserving of the utmost reverence and respect.”
As we prepare to welcome the birth of the Christ-child, let us remember that Joseph and Mary had to flee to Egypt to save Jesus’ life. Yes, Jesus was a migrant.
Over the years, migrants have come to our shores from over 30 countries. When they set foot on our shores, they do not cast off their God-given inherent, inalienable, inviolable dignity.
The permanent character of my dignity is essentially linked to the dignity of others. We are connected. Our dignity is connected. If their dignity is trampled upon, mine becomes tarnished. Authentic integral human development is about the whole person and every person.
The Second Vatican Council document, The Church in the Modern World (27 Gaudium et Spes) reminds us that “Whatever insults human dignity… are infamies indeed.”
Paragraph 1939 of our Catechism reminds us that “The principle of solidarity, also articulated in terms of ‘friendship’ or ‘social charity,’ is a direct demand of human and Christian brotherhood/sisterhood.”
While we recognise that T&T cannot accommodate all those who may wish to come here, let’s put in place humane systems to deal with those who do come. Some recent incidents highlight the need for T&T to review its procedures/practices with regard to how we treat migrants.
Read Pope Francis’ latest encyclical, Fratelli Tutti (FT), on fraternity and social friendship. As Fr Fabio Baggio says: “According to Pope Francis, the correct attitude of the Christian towards the foreigner—as indeed towards all vulnerable ‘neighbours’—is well exemplified in the parable of the Good Samaritan (81, FT). The encounter between the rescuer and the needy leaves no room for ideological manipulation and pushes both protagonists to overcome barriers (82-83, FT).
The Good Samaritan shows a heart capable of identifying with the suffering of the other, beyond differences, and of recognising Jesus Christ present in his neighbour (84, FT). It is a recognition that gives the other an infinite dignity, a true encounter with Jesus Christ (85, FT).
But it is also an encounter with humanity beyond the group to which it belongs (90, FT); it is a coming together that means going beyond national and regional borders to discover oneself part of a community of brothers and sisters who care for one another (96, FT).
This Sunday is the 3rd Sunday of Advent. Today’s Gospel – John 1:6–8, 19–28, is most appropriate. John came as a witness to speak for the “light” (Christ). As Pope Francis says, the vocation of all Christians is “to be witnesses to Jesus”, to fill their lives with the “gestures” typical of John the Baptist: “pointing to Jesus”. This is the common “mission” of the faithful”
I pay tribute to those working in Parish Ministries for Migrants and Refugees, and welcome Darrion Narine and Tameka Romeo who have recently joined CCSJ/AMMR.
…fleeing into Egypt, is the archetype of every refugee family. Jesus, Mary and Joseph, living in exile in Egypt to escape the fury of an evil king, are, for all times and all places, the models and protectors of every migrant, alien and refugee of whatever kind who, whether compelled by fear of persecution or by want, is forced to leave his native land, his beloved parents and relatives, his close friends, and to seek a foreign soil.
Pope Pius XII, Exsul Familia Nazarethana (1952)
CCSJ Social Justice Education Committee