View Bishop Peter Comensoli’s video message to the people of the Broken Bay Diocese in Australia for Migrant & Refugee Sunday 2015. Social Spirituality’s Sandie Cornish helps out. She spells out the calls to offer friendship, be informed, and promote social inclusion a little more in the text below.
We may not be able to solve all the injustices and hardships suffered by migrants and refugees – that requires international cooperation – but we can all do something.
These days sharp distinctions between migrants and refugees often fail to reflect the realties of people’s lives. Migration is more of a spectrum than a series of distinct categories. People move with different degrees of choice. It is a spectrum of force and freedom, desperation and aspiration. Many people on the move experience both push and pull factors. At one end of the spectrum are migrants who freely chose to move to enjoy a better life, and who would be able to choose to return to their home country in safety. At the other end of the spectrum are the forcibly displaced who have no choice but to move in order to seek safety and freedom. Even those who move through choice and in freedom face difficulties in adjusting to a new home. Remembering such experiences in our own lives and those of our extended families helps us to be conscious of the importance of offering friendship and hospitality. Those who have moved through necessity, often with little control over the circumstances of their movement or opportunity to prepare, need our practical solidarity even more. Will Jesus say to us that he was a stranger and we welcomed him?
The reality of ‘mixed flows’ of migrants and asylum seekers has triggered public discussion of who should be welcomed. Fear and misinformation can feed harsh reactions against those coming to us looking for safety and freedom. If we are to follow the one who said “I am the way, the truth, and the life” it is important to seek the truth and to live in it. It isn’t hard to be informed rather than simply accepting claims made about asylum seekers. The Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office, and the Refugee Council of Australia are reliable sources of accurate information.
The global movement of people leads us to reflect on what kind of society we want to be, and what kind of world we want to live in.
An ethic of solidarity, and of communion calls us beyond defensive, self-interested, and excluding responses to people on the move. If we are to accept Jesus’ offer of life to the full, then we need to accept and include each other. If we become a local community in which all are included and all are valued, we will more readily welcome those who come to us in need. We are, after all, members of one human family.
We can promote social inclusion. That’s the policy language for what Pope Francis describes in his message for Migrant & Refugee Sunday 2015 as a world “in which no one is seen as useless, out of place or disposable.” We can support policies and projects that ensure a place for everyone and we can let our local councilors, and state and federal politicians know that this is important to us.