By Vatican News staff reporter
“Migrants and refugees do not come to usurp our way of life; instead, it rejoices in how they can enrich our society.”
Those were the words of Bishop Paul McAleenan, Lead Bishop for Migrants and Refugees at the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.
Speaking at the launch of Pope Francis’ message for the 107th World Day of Migrants and Refugees, the Bishop said Catholics should have a “heart open to the world when engaging with these vulnerable people.”
Impact on the human family
During a press conference on Thursday, he focused on three areas affecting the human family today.
The Bishop said, “the decision of the United Kingdom to reduce its aid budget compounds the suffering of the world’s poorest.”
He also mentioned the fact that “nations engaging in the arms trade bring endless misery to those in places of conflict.”
Thirdly, the Bishop on Migration said, “Our contribution to the climate emergency results in droughts, disasters and displacement thousands of miles away.”
Church’s engagement with migrants and refugees
Setting out the Church’s approach on the issue of migrants and refugees, the Bishop said: “It opposes policies which seek to divide migrants and refugees into groups; some preferred and others rejected.”
He went on to say that “agencies and charities on the south coast of England and in northern France provide material and moral support to those in greatest danger; liturgies celebrate the contribution of migrants to the Church and society.”
The Bishop also noted that technology is being employed in order “to reach and embrace the undocumented during the current pandemic.”
Concluding his intervention, Bishop McAleenan stressed the importance of promoting the equal dignity of migrants and refugees.
“With the Holy Father we encourage a widening of minds and hearts. Within the circle of our society, room should be made for everyone, including migrants and refugees who seek a home among us.”