By Linda Bordoni
'Set some time aside to share a a meal with a migrant or refugee, spend some time together, listen to his or her story'.
This is the invitation made by Caritas organizations across the world to all men and women of goodwill as part of the ongoing “Share the Journey” campaign that aims to promote dialogue and understanding between communities and migrants and refugees.
Reinforcing the campaign, Caritas is promoting a “Global Week of Action” from 17-24th June with events and initiatives to help people really ‘get in touch’ and take action as Pope Francis appealed, when he launched the “Share the Journey” campaign in September 2017.
Michel Roy is the President of Caritas Internationalis. He told Linda Bordoni that this is a major moment in the world and in the Caritas campaign:
Recalling the launch of the “Share the Journey” Campaign, Roy said Pope Francis invited everyone to “meet a migrant”.
Culture of encounter
He said the Pope continuously pushes this “culture of encounter” but explained that specific moments are needed to give extra strength to the momentum that has been generated.
That’s why, Roy, said, Caritas has promoted this Global Week of Action to take place around the 21st June, the day marking World Refugee Day.
He said that in the week around that date the Caritas family invites us to meet migrants in a special way through sharing a meal.
“Why sharing a meal? Because sharing a meal is an opportunity to meet. When we have a meal at home it’s the moment when the family speaks” he said.
So, Roy explained, inviting migrants and perhaps even asking them to help prepare the food is “an opportunity for meeting and sharing”.
An invitation to each and every one of us
Roy said that Caritas organizations are on the ground with a series of initiatives and meals, but people are also encouraged to take their own initiative: “everything is possible!”
He said the specific website for the Global Week of Action is journey.caritas.org where you can find the meaning of this week as well as the different initiatives taken.
All the initiatives he said have “the purpose to break down barriers and go beyond what one has heard about migrants”.
“People may have fear but that fear breaks down when you meet the person. So it is a person-to-person opportunity that we want to offer to everyone” he said.
How has the “Share the Journey campaign being going?
Roy said the campaign is “moving around the world”.
“In the United States it has been widely developed, probably because of the current situation in the US where migrants are invited to leave. So the US Catholic Bishops’ Conference and other faith-based organizations and services are really moving forward and taking new initiatives” he said.
Roy said “The Global Week of Action” is an opportunity to speed things up, because, he added, “welcoming migrants seems to be ‘an issue’ and we really need our human family to be more understanding and more welcoming and not to take refuge in fear”
He recalled that the Pope invited us to develop hope saying that not only migrants are on a journey, but also the communities which they leave and which receive them.
“Hope, Pope Francis said, is the cornerstone of our physical and spiritual journeys” and Roy noted that “without hope those journeys cannot be made”.
What Caritas wants with this week of action and with the campaign, Roy said, “is to help humanity: this globalized world means an increased circulation of people and of goods, and this is not going to change”.
“As catholics we are happy about this because we are one human family. So the Global Week of Action is an opportunity offered to all to make encounter happen and to make hearts, and eyes and minds change for the better”.