Pope Francis’ message for the 107th World Day of Migrants and Refugees was launched this morning, and Director of JRS UK Sarah Teather was among those invited to speak reflecting on the theme: “Towards an ever wider ‘we’.” In a press conference held at the Vatican, Sarah Teather joined Cardinal Michael Czerny SJ, under-secretary of the Migrants and Refugees Section, Bishop Paul McAleenan, auxiliary bishop of Westminster and lead Bishop for Migrants and Refugees, Fr Fabio Baggio CS, under-secretary of the Migrants and Refugees Section, and SrAlessandra Smerilli FMA, under-secretary of the Dicastery for Integral Human Development.
The 107th World Day of Migrants and Refugees, will be celebrated on Sunday 26 September 2021 on the theme: “Towards an ever wider ‘we’”. Pope Francis invites us to journey together on a common road.
The Holy Father’s video campaign for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees was presented for the first time, featuring Mark Seitz, Bishop of El Paso, reflecting on the Mexico/USA border and what we can learn from one another when we welcome migrants and refugees, and cease to other ourselves. The Holy Father tells us, “We are like so many grains of sand, all of us are different and unique, but together we can form a beautiful beach, a true work of art”.
Sarah Teather spoke reflecting on the work of JRS UK accompanying those seeking asylum, and called for a common human family to welcome and encounter those seeking sanctuary, “Creating “an ever wider we” requires a common journey of all people. The Holy Father speaks powerfully of how far we have strayed from the road we travel together: he says “the us willed by God is broken and fragmented, wounded and disfigured.”
“I see this brokenness in the experiences of refugees we accompany and serve at the Jesuit Refugee Service in the UK. Faced with those who fled their homes and sought sanctuary, the asylum system builds walls of suspicion to stop them receiving the protection they need. It detains them and enforces destitution; destitution which makes many vulnerable to abuse and exploitation; they speak of the sense of losing themselves through the years struggling at the margins.”
Cardinal Michael Czerny, S.J. also called for humanity to come together and abandon selfish individualism and isolationism, evoking the parable of the Good Samaritan. He said:
“The Samaritan reached across the typical gap of us versus them. Nothing to gain, maybe to lose, but out of compassion for another who is a victim…Let us rebuild the human family in all its beauty by recognising the other as richness, as laden with those talents that make others uniquely different from me.”
Speaking on the ways the Catholic Church welcomes refugees and migrants in the UK, Bishop Paul McAleenan called on nations and governments to step up and take responsibility for others. He said: “Pope Francis draws our attention to the interconnectedness of humanity: my decisions and actions here affect others who are far away.
“Understanding the reasons for migration must include the acknowledgement that we are not blameless. When someone’s home is on fire we are obliged to give them shelter, protection and help to start again.”
We’ll be sharing resources for World Day of Migrants and Refugees in the coming months – watch this space!