Bishop Paul McAleenan, Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster and Chair of the Bishops’ Conference Office for Migration and Policy, spoke to us about the World Day for Migrants and Refugees which will be celebrated on Sunday 15 January and asks us to to reflect on Pope Francis’ chosen theme, ‘Child Migrants, The Vulnerable and Voiceless’.
This year 2017, World Day for Migrants and Refugees will be celebrated on Sunday 15 January.
For our reflection Pope Francis has chosen the theme, ‘Child Migrants, The Vulnerable and Voiceless’.
In his message Pope Francis says ‘Migration today is not a phenomenon limited to some areas of the planet. It affects all continents and is growing into a tragic situation of global proportions’
The Holy Father focuses on the plight of migrant children, in particular unaccompanied minors separated from their families and loved ones. These children he points out are ‘vulnerable and voiceless’ with ‘no means to protect themselves’
He then goes on to speak of how these children due to their vulnerability, poverty and lack of means to survive are open to exploitation and abuse and exposure to people traffickers. Human trafficking is a growing danger to migrants and he warns of the connection there is between migration and trafficking.
Commenting that the driving force behind trafficking is demand and profiteering Pope Francis calls for a more holistic approach to address the complex phenomenon of migration – including the root causes in the countries of origin, which is often conflict and violence. This forces people to flee.
He warns that unless “more rigorous and effective action is taken” against the beneficiaries of abuse, “multiple forms of slavery where children are the victims” will not be stopped.
Pope Francis concludes with gratitude and encouragement to those who are supporting migrant children and appeals to all of us, to live up to our obligation to do three things to receive them, integrate them into our communities and work towards long-term solutions noting that the Gospels record that Jesus once said;
“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me” (Mk9:37; cf. Mt 18:5; Lk 9:48; Jn 13:20).
On this World Day for Migrants and Refugees, let’s pray for this intention.
Pope Francis’ message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees