Dear Friends for Life:
The UN estimates that about 60 million people are displaced forcibly in the world. Would these people be called “Refugees” or “Migrants”? Online news as well as the mass media use these terms interchangeably, yet there is a great difference which affects our approach when tackling this problem.
The word “Refugee” refers to people who are fleeing wars or persecution. Their situation is so dangerous that they cross national boundaries to seek safety and have no idea when they will return but they need sanctuary. To deny asylum would present deadly consequences for them. Furthermore, Refugees are protected by international law – the 1951 Refugee Convention still remains the cornerstone of modern refugee protection.
This protection primarily includes safety from being forced to return; access to fair asylum procedures; policies to ensure basic human rights; and help to find longer-term solutions.
“Migrants” on the other hand leave their respective countries to improve their lives by searching for better jobs, as we see happening on a large scale in Asia today. Unlike the Refugees, they can return home at any time without any fear of persecution.
As the “Refugee Problem” continues to escalate, what should be our role as “People for Life”? The Gospel instructs us to have a special place in our hearts for the poor, the smallest, and the forsaken. Throughout the Gospels, Christ goes around giving CONCRETE HOPE to this segment of society. You and I are Christ’s followers. Through Baptism, the word “christian” is stamped on our foreheads. As “Christ’s Presence” in the world, we are asked to give CONCRETE HOPE to the “Forsaken Refugees”.
From the beginning of his papacy, Pope Francis has focused on the plight of refugees. “Behind these statistics are people, each of them with a name, a face, a story, an inalienable dignity which is theirs as a child of God,” the Pope said.
As one CONCRETE STEP during the Year of Mercy, Pope Francis suggest that “every” parish, religious community, monastery and sanctuary accept one refugee family — an appeal that, if honored, would offer shelter up to 350,000-500,000 refugees, over half being children.
In his guidance on Mercy, Pope Francis notes that “at times we are called to gaze even more attentively on mercy so that we may become a more effective sign of the Father’s action in our lives” (Misericordiae Vultus, 3). God’s love is meant to reach out to each and every person.
Soon we will celebrate “Christmas”. Christ was born into our world for only one purpose– to die on the cross for us, ie. to save us. The “Refugee Problem” is a crisis facing us. Being Christ’s Presence in the world, how far are we willing to die for our neighbor?
Additional Reading: Message of His Holiness Pope Francis For the World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2016.
Jerry Novotny, OMI
For more, view Catholic ProLife Website “Clear Thinking about crucial issues” by Fr. Jerry
(The Difference is LIFE)
“If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?” – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Websites by Fr. Jerry
(English) Weekly Pro Life Newsletters
(English) Fr. Jerry’s Blog: Fighting for the Culture of Life
(Japanese) Fr. Jerry’s Blog: Human Rights: The Road to a Happy Life