During Advent, the Catholic Church celebrates World Migration Day based on the message from the Holy Father. In England and Wales, the Bishops' have set aside 3 December as the day of Special Prayer for Refugees and Migrants.
To celebrate World Migration Day, Bishop Patrick O'Donoghue, Chairman, Office for Refugee Policy, Department for International Affairs, has issued the following statement:
The observation of World Migration Day gives us Catholics an opportunity to reflect on the roles we play as pastoral activists working for and with refugees and migrants. It also give us an opportunity to reflect on some of the more difficult questions about migration; questions such as, why are the rich countries of the world unwilling to sign or ratify international treaties protecting migrants and why are they now shifting their asylum policies overseas?
The Holy Father's message for this year is particularly poignant not only because it was the last message of the late Pope John Paul II but also because of his forethought in highlighting the theme of 'intercultural integration'. This theme is particularly crucial in today's world of globalisation and fears about security.
Migration, for political (persecution) or economic reasons, triggers a mixing of cultural, social and political values; a type of osmosis. There are those who are hostile to this process, exaggerate differences and agitate for exclusion. The Church rejects this view. The Church looks kindly and favourably upon this growing movement of people, for she sees in it her own image, that of a pilgrim people. The Church also considers it God's will, the unification and celebration of diversity and solidarity of the human family.
In this year's World Migration Day, I pray for the 12 million refugees and the over 150 million migrants who remind us daily that the world is a fractured place where the fruits of development, justice and peace are unevenly distributed. Equally, refugees and migrants challenge us to strive for an inclusive community that is a sign and foretaste of the Kingdom to come.
© Independent Catholic News 2005