Challenges and Signs of Hope in the Forced Migration Apostolate

18 December – International Migrant’s Day

By Javier Cortegoso Lobato, Jesuit Network with Migrants (CPAL)

“Migrations, more than ever before, will play a pivotal role in the future of our world”. At present, however, migration is affected by the “loss of that sense of responsibility for our brothers and sisters on which every civil society is based”.

Pope Francis, Fratelli tutti

It is difficult not to accept the truth behind the phrase “we are all migrants.” Even if we have not lived it in the first person, it is not strange that our parents, or our grandparents, or our siblings have had a migration experience. Migration is therefore not new, but the volume of migration has grown exponentially in recent decades.

Many of these people are not exercising migration as a right, but are victims literally fleeing for their lives. The Society of Jesus, like the Church, is especially concerned with sharing the journey of people in situations of forced migration who have left their communities for various interconnected causes.

In the face of this tremendous complexity, I would like to present some challenges that we must face.

To identify and denounce the causes of migration and those who cause it. To be capable of solidarity, but also of indignation.

To understand that migration is not itself a problem, but that we are living in a generalized crisis of human rights that is a major cause of migration. The problem is to understand the causes that generate expulsion. In our apostolate, this implies an equal commitment to the defense of the right to migrate and the right not to migrate. To do this, we must understand and analyze the facts that lead to forced migration, denounce them, and propose radical changes.

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To demand a change in public policies on migration.

Policies on migration are becoming more and more restrictive and moving away from the parameters of justice. This restriction generates a tension with the even greater need to migrate. We are walking with millions of people who are fleeing in search of a future of salvation, who are risking their lives. States must guarantee international protection for all these people, and to do so they must be flexible and creative in creating migration alternatives and providing access to rights.

Our apostolate must demand regulatory frameworks that not only guarantee administrative regularization, but also actively promote policies that favor international protection, full access to rights - including the principle of non-expulsion - and adequate reception and integration.

Public policies for a real Integration.

The same thing that we affirm for social behavior, we must demand for political behavior. Migration policy must not only move away from partisan interests, but cannot be reduced to containing the humanitarian consequences of forced migration. The 2018 Global Covenants noted a crucial element: comprehensive policiesmust promote real integration, facilitate the practice of hospitality as a social habit and address all dimensions of the migrant as a human being and as part of the society that welcomes him/her.

The practice of Hospitality: It is necessary to understand hospitality with an integral perspective.

Integrity implies responding positively to the possibility of living truly together. Betting on true communities of hospitality implies not only learning to accept diversity as a richness, but also opening up to share community spaces, promoting participation, accepting that we share the space of decision-making in our societies. Hospitality is a way of living together, creating fraternal societies. We must promote the culture of hospitality through the creation of authentic communities of welcome.

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To view hope as a challenge, a responsibility and an opportunity.

To encounter Christ, forced to flee, on the faces of migrants, displaced persons and refugees is a permanent source of hope.

In all contexts of forced migration, we also discover gestures of immense solidarity and welcome; hospitality is a present and actual value. On every continent, the apostolates of the Society promote processes of accompaniment, walking with the excluded. These commitments in accompaniment allow us to be witnesses of change, to see migrants who, from vulnerability and precariousness, are able to heal their wounds, and witness a transformation towards empowerment.

Weaving networks as a fundamental strategy.

Forty years ago, Father Arrupe marked an important milestone in the history of the Society by encouraging us to defend, serve and accompany refugees. The necessary leap we are making, especially in this 21st century, but with great difficulty, is the commitment to networking.

Interprovincial and intersectorial networks that link the dimensions of work, that are oriented by and for the mission, that start from accompaniment from the borders and territories most vulnerable to forced migration and that recognize the need to promote alliances, this is our real challenge.

It is important and comforting to recognize the steps taken in this regard in all the Jesuit Conferences. But we still have a long way to go. As we celebrate International Migrant’s Day in 2020, let us each try to respond to this question: what is God asking of us today in the accompaniment of forced migration?

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Posted by Communications Office - Editor in Curia Generalizia
Communications Office
The Communications Office of the General Curia publishes news of international scope on the central government of the Society of Jesus and on the commitments of the Jesuits and their partners. It also handles public relations.

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