Pope Francis in his 2019 Message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees attributed this bleak scenario to violent conflicts, economic and social imbalances on a local and global scale.
On top of this is the sad culture of global indifference, insensitivity to the sufferings of the poor and the wrong attitude of putting the blame on them. Our Holy Father warns us "the marginalization and exclusion of refugees is a sign of moral decline."
The negative reactions toward the many migrants and refugees who enter our country is alarming. It is a fact that aside from the Latinos and Africans, Asians are now the largest group of immigrants and refugees knocking at our doors and seeking not only a warm welcome but a better future for themselves. Unfortunately, the unhealthy climate of rejection and racial intolerance that is contrary to our Christian tradition and Gospel values prevails. Irrespective of who arrives into our country, it is imperative we do not forget they are our neighbors, one like us with equal human dignity as children of God.
Our faith impels us to express the soothing and healing balm of compassion and mercy to those in need. After all, Pope Francis said such "acts of charity enriches us and enables us to be more human and recognize ourselves as participants in a greater collectivity understanding that our life is a gift for others and our goal is not our own interest but the good of humanity "(Address at a Mosque in Baku, October 2016).
Our ministry becomes more challenging under these circumstances. It highlights the necessity and relevance of what the Subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Affairs is undertaking as we embark on the dissemination and implementation of the USCCB document - Encountering Christ in Harmony: A Pastoral Response to Our Asian and Pacific Island Brothers and Sisters. It is a valuable resource for Church leaders, parish ministers and faith communities and also other cultural groups presenting recommendations and ideas on how to reach out to Asian and Pacific Islanders.
It implies that the culture of Christian hospitality does not stop in welcoming and embracing refugees and immigrants. It extends from recognizing their presence to full integration into our faith community, opening the doors wide for their full participation in the life of the Church and essential formation as missionary disciples of Christ.
Pope Francis, in his message, reminds us that the challenges we face these days "is not just about migrants but it is about building the city of God and man."
Migrants and refugees "are no longer strangers and sojourners but are fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God (Eph 2:39). They are sacraments of God's presence in our world. The richness of cultural and religious diversity they bring
creates a colorful mosaic where every piece contributes to the uniqueness and beauty of the whole
They are the antidote against the culture of exclusion and selfishness and valuable assets not liabilities; not a threat to be feared, but blessings to be received. Migrants and refugees inspire and call us to renewal of our hearts, so we can
God's plan to build a civilization of love, justice and peace in our world.
Have a blessed and restful summer!