On June 15, 2021, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, spoke at the close of the “Share the Journey” campaign, supported by Caritas Internationalis.
Launched in 2017 by Pope Francis, this campaign was followed by the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and the Dicastery for the Service of Integral Human Development. It gave rise to a vast program of solidarity in favor of migrants, which was relayed by the national branches of Caritas Internationalis.
The Philippine cardinal urged states not to shut themselves up in selfishness and fear of foreigners: “At a time when the Covid-19 is supposed to lead to global solidarity, the end of the global campaign of Caritas Internationalis is an invitation to continue to share the journey with migrants, especially at this very difficult time.”
These initiatives show the usefulness “of concrete acts of love.” he stressed, and bring “holy pride” to the Catholic Church.
“The Holy Father has been a source of inspiration for all of this,” continued Cardinal Tagle, explaining how Francis encouraged reception, protection, promotion, and integration, four fundamental principles that the pope, in his message for World Migrant and Refugee Day 2018, indicated as responses to the challenges posed by contemporary migration.
Sunday, June 20, after the Angelus prayer, Pope Francis himself was keen to stress World Refugee Day, promoted by the United Nations on the same Sunday.
“Let us open our hearts to refugees; let us make their sorrows and their joys our own; let us learn from their courageous resilience!,” he declared after having cited in his catechesis the call to help migrants who drown at sea.
“All together, in this way we will become a more humane community, one big family,” continued Pope Francis.
In his message published on May 6, 2021 on the occasion of the 107th World Day for Migrants and Refugees, which will take place on September 26, François chose as his theme: “Towards an Ever Wider ‘We,’” wishing thus, he specifies, “to indicate a clear horizon for our common journey in this world.”
This horizon, he declares at the outset, is present in the creative project of God Himself: “God created humankind in His image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them. God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply’” (Gen 1:27-28).
And, to Adam and Eve's disobedience, continues the Pope, God offered “a path of reconciliation, not as individuals but as a people, a ‘we,’ meant to embrace the entire human family, without exception: ‘See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be His peoples, and God Himself will be with them’ (Rev 21:3).”
But times of crisis like the current pandemic, explains the Sovereign Pontiff, divide us in favor of “myopic and aggressive forms of nationalism” and “radical individualism,” and inevitably “foreigners, migrants, the marginalized, those living on the existential peripheries” pay the highest price.
With a singular exegesis and a personal theology, Francis writes this “history of this ‘we’” to “address a twofold appeal, first to the Catholic faithful, and then all the men and women of our world, to advance together towards an ever wider ‘we.’”
So that “a Church that is more and more Catholic” may grow, Pope Francis calls his faithful to commit themselves to becoming more Catholic, “as Saint Paul reminded the community in Ephesus: ‘There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism’ (Eph 4:4-5).”
And knowing that “the Holy Spirit enables us to embrace everyone, to build communion in diversity, to unify differences without imposing a depersonalized uniformity. In encountering the diversity of foreigners, migrants and refugees, and in the intercultural dialogue that can emerge from this encounter, we have an opportunity to grow as Church and to enrich one another.”
Through this message from the Pope, it is less a question of being an apostle, of teaching the good news of the Gospel, than of establishing “a fertile ground for the growth of open and enriching ecumenical and interreligious dialogue.” It is above all about “walking together,” it is less about sharing the treasure of the faith than widening the Church’s “tent to embrace everyone.”
Then Francis urges all men and women in the world to journey together “for the sake of renewing the human family, building together a future of justice and peace, and ensuring that no one is left behind.”
Making reference to “This is the ideal of the new Jerusalem (cf. Is 60; Rev 21:3), where all peoples are united in peace and harmony, celebrating the goodness of God and the wonders of creation,” the Pope explains that “we must make every effort to break down the walls that separate us and, … build bridges that foster a culture of encounter.”
Finally, he asks everyone to “to make good use of the gifts that the Lord has entrusted to us to preserve and make his creation even more beautiful,” in the line of Laudato si’ and of Querida Amazonia.
And to conclude: “We are called to dream together, fearlessly, as a single human family, as companions on the same journey, as sons and daughters of the same earth that is our common home, sisters and brothers all” (cf. Fratelli Tutti, 8).
Faced with this enthusiasm of the Pope and his entourage for the “culture of encounter,” the dossier entitled “The Pope and the Migrants” was published in Nouvelles de Chrétienté, no.169, which is still relevant today.
“From the start of his pontificate, Pope Francis has shown such extreme solicitude for migrants, that that some faithful Catholics are at the point of wondering whether the only way to attract his attention would be to become a refugee.”
“The 'outer peripheries' are the object of his keen interest, but the peasants of God, those who remain (in Latin: manent) faithful, seem to interest him less; they are so suspect, in his eyes, of identity isolationism or rigid selfishness.”
“Once it was 'the preferential option for the poor,' today it seems a preferential option for migrants, to the detriment of the peasants. Are the latter isolationist because they do not want minarets to replace belltowers? Are they rigid because they want to keep the Catholic faith?”
“The Pope’s positions on immigration, mostly Muslim, concern the life, or survival, of Christian nations. These are vital issue which all are concerned about.”
“The focus of this issue of Nouvelles de Chrétienté shows that immigration is not just a political and economic issue, but a religious one.”
“The new theological principles adopted at the Council on the Church and modernity, on the dignity of the human person, on interreligious dialogue, are underlying this debate.”
“Those who have seen only Byzantine quarrels in the controversies over the conciliar novelties, now realize that these theological novelties have concrete, practical, vital consequences.”
“This is indeed a dossier containing documents useful for understanding this serious problem. Rather than adding new explanations, we prefer to let the Pope speak, the critical analyzes addressed to him, and above all the facts and figures on immigration which, by themselves, are worth all the comments.”
“Far from being a sign of a narrowness of mind and heart, remaining faithful to the faith received is the guarantee of the ability to transmit all its riches to those who have not had the grace to receive it. Of this mission the peasants of God should be humbly proud.”
Dossier “The Pope and the Migrants”, Nouvelles de Chrétienté no. 169, January-February 2018, € 4, to be ordered from CIVIROMA, 33 rue Galande, F-75005 Paris.