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Mexico City Cardinal Says Migrant Caravan Looking for a Scene at U.S. Border

A group of Central American migrants gather in the central park of Ciudad Hidlago, Mexico, Saturday, Oct. 20, 2018. Mexican authorities for a second straight day refused mass entry to a caravan of Central American migrants held up at the border with Guatemala, but began accepting small groups for asylum …
AP Photo/Oliver de Ros

Mexico City Cardinal Carlos Aguiar Retes said he is confused by the migrant caravan heading north from Honduras, since it appears they do not want to enter the United States but just to make a scene at the border.

“I’m certainly surprised by this caravan. I wonder why they’re doing it, because they don’t want to go into the United States, they just want to make a demonstration at the border,” Retes told the online news site Crux this week.

“It’s a bit strange because it seems that there are many who’ve already returned,” the cardinal added. “Then, at the beginning they were only from Honduras, but now I’ve read they’re mostly from Guatemala.”

Pope Francis has seemed to discount the possibility that the caravan was orchestrated by international operatives looking to make a public statement, saying this week that the large number of those marching from Honduras to the United States was due to the tendency of migrants to group together and form a community.

Using the example of the “caravan traveling from Honduras to the United States,” Francis said that migrants prefer to stick together, to move as a group rather than to go it alone like “free agents.” In this way, migrants form their own “communities.”

The pope is a close friend of the highest-ranking prelate in Honduras, Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, the bishop of Tegucigalpa. Over the past year, Maradiaga has been at the epicenter of a series of scandals ranging from financial mismanagement and embezzlement of funds, to protecting a sexually abusive bishop, to covering up a homosexual “epidemic” in his diocesan seminary.

Maradiaga, the coordinator of the pope’s C9 council of cardinal advisers on curial reform who has sometimes been referred to as the “vice-pope” for his extraordinary influence in the Francis pontificate, was due to retire last December when he turned 75, but the pope chose not to accept his resignation and kept him in place as bishop of Tegucigalpa.

The leaders of the major Catholic migration and relief agencies in the United States also issued a joint statement this week, appealing for “humane solutions that honor the rule of law and respect the dignity of human life.”

“As Catholic agencies assisting poor and vulnerable migrants in the United States and around the world, we are deeply saddened by the violence, injustice, and deteriorating economic conditions forcing many people to flee their homes in Central America,” the statement read.

“While nations have the right to protect their borders, this right comes with responsibilities. Governments must enforce laws proportionately, treat all people humanely, and provide due process,” it said.

“We affirm that seeking asylum is not a crime. We urge all governments to abide by international law and existing domestic laws that protect those seeking safe haven, and to ensure that all those who are returned to their home country are protected and repatriated safely,” it said.

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