A Vatican official has come out swinging in defense of Pope Francis’ insistence on the topic of immigration, accusing the Pope’s critics of being “obsessed” with national security and border control.
Asked in an interview with Italian media whether the Pope isn’t “obsessed” with the immigration question, Jesuit Father Michael Czerny, undersecretary for the Vatican’s office of Migrants and Refugees, responded that it isn’t Pope Francis who is obsessive, but rather his critics.
Many would say that the modern “obsession with borders and national security to the detriment of the rights and dignity of refugees and refugees” is excessive, the priest declared. And for many others, “the media predilection for sensational stories that feed xenophobia and isolationism is also excessive,” he added.
For many people, “the way in which politicians create or exaggerate a sense of crisis to obtain short-term advantages is decidedly excessive,” he said.
Anybody who thinks the Pope’s focus on migrants is obsessive “should give the current situation a thoughtful look,” Father Czerny said. If anything is excessive, “it is the slowness with which the ‘developed’ world responds to such obvious and pressing needs,” many would say.
Citing the Secretary General of the United Nations, António Guterres, the priest said that “the rise of nationalism and xenophobia must be counted among the new dangers for global peace and stability.”
“Far from criticizing the Pope’s attention,” he said, “many good people—and I think they are the overwhelming majority—are indeed deeply grateful for his moral guidance and good example.”
“And I agree with him when he says: ‘Those who fuel fear towards migrants, perhaps for political ends, instead of building peace, sow violence, racial discrimination and xenophobia,’” he said.
The official added that true leaders “show that the common good can and must be pursued and that there is no ‘common good’ based on fear, defense and marginalization.”
The Vatican office for Migrants and Refugees working for “the expansion of safe, legal channels for all migrants through the granting of humanitarian visas” as well as promoting “programs of community sponsorship” for migrants and refugees.
Last fall, the Vatican announced the roll-out of a two-year campaign called “Share the Journey” aimed at provoking a “shift in thinking” on immigration.
The campaign is being spearheaded by the global Catholic charities network Caritas Internationalis, and was launched as a response to Pope Francis’ frequent summons for a “culture of encounter.”
Our world “faces not a migration crisis, but a crisis of global solidarity,” Caritas says on its website. “Be part of a worldwide campaign to reach out to migrants, change perceptions, open hearts and minds, and strengthen the bonds that unite us all.”
For his part, Pope Francis has stated that the distress that many citizens feel in the face of the massive arrival of migrants and refugees is caused by “an innate fear of the ‘foreigner.’”
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