This Sunday is the 106th World Day
of Migrants and Refugees
Forced like Jesus Christ to Flee
The Church has been celebrating the World Day of Migrants and Refugees (WDMR) since 1914. It is always an occasion to express concern for different vulnerable people on the move; to pray for them as they face many challenges; and to increase awareness about the opportunities that migration offers.
Every year the WDMR is the last Sunday of September – this year, September 27th. As the title for his annual message, the Holy Father has chosen “Forced like Jesus Christ to flee” to focus on the pastoral care of internally displaced people (IDPs). The following are excerpts from the Pope Francis’ message:
At the beginning of this year, I pointed to the tragedy of internally displaced people as one of the challenges of our contemporary world: “Situations of conflict and humanitarian emergencies, aggravated by climate change, are increasing the number of displaced persons and affecting people already living in a state of dire poverty. May of the countries experiencing these situations lack adequate structures for meeting the needs of the displaced.”
For these reasons, this message is devoted to the drama of internally displaced persons, an often unseen tragedy that the global crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated. In fact, due to its virulence, severity and geographical extent, this crisis has impacted many other humanitarian emergencies that affect millions of people, which has relegated to the bottom of national political agendas those urgent international efforts essential to saving lives. But this is not a time for forgetfulness. In light of the tragic events that have marked 2020, I would like this message to [also] embrace all those who are experiencing situations of precariousness, abandonment, marginalization and rejection as a result of COVID-19.
During the flight into Egypt, the child Jesus experienced with his parents the tragic fate of the displaced and refugees, “which is marked by fear, uncertainty and unease. Unfortunately, in our own times, millions of families can identify with this sad reality. Almost every day [we hear] news of refugees fleeing from hunger, war and other grave dangers, in search of security and a dignified life for themselves and their families.” In each of these people, forced to flee to safety, Jesus is present as he was at the time of Herod.
We are called to respond to this pastoral challenge with the four verbs I indica ted in 2018: welcome, protect, promote and integrate. To these words, I would add another six pairs of verbs that deal with very practical actions. You have to know in order to understand. It is necessary to be close in order to serve. In order to be reconciled, we need to listen. In order to grow, it is necessary to share. We need to be involved in order to promote. It is necessary to cooperate in order to build.
This is not a time for self-centeredness, because the challenge we are facing is shared by all, without distinguishing between persons”. To preserve our common home and make it conform more and more to God’s original plan, we must commit ourselves to ensuring international cooperation, global solidarity and local commitment, leaving no one excluded.