AMERICA/BRAZIL - "Life is made up of meetings": no to the criminalization of migrants and refugees

Tuesday, 19 June 2018 emigration   refugees   local churches  

Brasilia (Agenzia Fides) - The objective of the 33rd National Migrant Week, which is celebrated throughout Brazil from 17 to 24 June, is to promote "the culture of encounter", "making spaces and opportunities grow for immigrants and to allow local communities to meet, dialogue and act": says Mgr. José Luiz Ferreira Sales, Bishop of Pesqueira and spokesperson of the Pastoral Sector of Human Mobility of the Brazilian Episcopal Conference (CNBB).
According to information released by the CNBB, sent to Agenzia Fides, several communities and parishes across the country have organized activities to open the Week, which has as its theme "Life is made up of meetings" and as a slogan "Open arms without the fear of welcoming". The Archbishop of Brasilia, Cardinal Sergio da Rocha, who is also President of the CNBB, presided over the opening celebration in the Metropolitan Cathedral, with a representation of migrants and refugees who actively participated in the liturgy.
In the homily he recalled that the capital of Brazil was built by migrants and recalled the repeated appeal of Pope Francis on the need for a fraternal reception of migrants, especially refugees.
Caritas Brazil in past days, from 12 to 14 June, had promoted an international seminar on "Migration and Refugees - Paths for a culture of encounter", under the guidance of Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, President of Caritas Internationalis, in which migrants and refugees from various countries of Africa, Europe, Asia and Latin America, pastoral workers, ecclesial organizations, civil society institutions, international organizations and government took part.
In the final document, sent to Fides, it is underlined that "the presence of migrants and refugees among us is a precious opportunity to develop our cultural intelligence of interreligious relations, which is fundamental for our maturity as humanity and community that believes that we are sons and daughters of God". It should also be remembered that in Brazil, "a country established and built historically by the participation of immigrants, the culture of encounter is formed day by day in interpersonal relationships, in the work routine, in sharing between neighbors and in solidarity with the brother and the sister, to understand the culture of others and to be bridges of solidarity and integration".
Participants in the Seminar, aware of the characteristics of the global and regional migration context, which requires "a structured, agile and timely work of all organizations (Church, civil society, state and international organizations)", invite religious communities, groups and organizations to promote intercultural experiences "in the various forms of reception of migrant and refugee brothers and sisters, with creativity in promoting their effective and full integration into community life".
The signatories of the final document denounce "the criminalization of migration, xenophobia, racism, discriminatory language with stereotypes and prejudices, unfounded alarmism, the use and dissemination of misinformation on issues related to migration and refugees, and all violations of the human rights of migrants and refugees, including human trafficking and work similar to slavery". Convinced of the personal and community potential of migrants and refugees, they bet "on their creative and co-responsible role in building intercultural relations and experiences of solidarity in the communities, with a positive presence and contribution", and encourage them "to believe in themselves, in their faith and in their power of transformation and organization in pursuing their dreams and projects of life". Finally, it is urgent that states, Churches and civil society continue to promote "intercultural and interreligious reflections on the migratory phenomenon in the Latin American region, carrying out analyzes of contexts that allow us to understand and address causes and trends, and to project coordinated responses among all". (SL) (Agenzia Fides, 19/6/2018)