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The religious and migration in the 21st century: perspectives, response and challenges

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March 10, 2016

JPIClogoREFLECTION - This Conference on Migration, held on February 22 to 24 at the Passionist Center in Rome, addresses the increase of people fleeing from war, hunger, misery, political and/or religious persecution which has grown in extraordinary dimensions and has changed the dynamics of migration. A strategic and coordinated response, by religious men and women is needed in the current refugee and migration crisis in Europe. Linking local and global initiatives is the vital response. In order to raise awareness and join hands in the task of responding to the crisis, the event was co-sponsored by Passionists International, Congregations of St. Joseph, Augustinians International and the Congregation of the Mission (Vincentians), which all have a presence at the United Nations as Catholic inspired NGOs.

Leading the discussion was a panel which included the Jesuits Refugees Service (JRS), Caritas International, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC), the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples, and representation from the Italian government. Participants also heard representatives from civil society organizations, but the stories of the victims and refugees were the most powerful. Following are reflections from two of our JPIC Promoters.

Carmen Elisa Bandeo, SspS

Feeling the sufferings of our brothers and sisters, we are driven by our commitment to make the Gospel present. In different ways, we have sought to respond according to our congregational charisms in the various places where we are. While the reality is beyond our reach, we understand that we cannot address this phenomenon and its causes by acting in isolation. My impressions on the seminar can be summarized in a comment that I heard: “migration itself is not a problem, it is the consequences.” Given this statement I think we as religious women and men are giving many good responses to these emerging needs, but it is time to give a global response in a systemic manner. We have staff, structures and means to do that, we only lack collaboration to put what we have to work. Here is where the JPIC promoters of the JPIC Commission of the UISG / USG could have a role to play in coordinating the efforts to begin realizing this utopia. Who is willing to collaborate? Where do we start?

Jude Nnorom, CSSp

Participants agreed that to develop a sustainable approach to the refugee and migrant situation requires a new thinking that appreciates the ongoing dynamics of migration, rather than the perspective that it is a temporary emergency. Networking and collaboration among religious are approaches that should be further explored. A major insight is the need to collaborate with the Jesuit Initiative at Centro Astalli, support for the counter trafficking office of the Unione Superiore Maggiori d’Italia (USMI), and the initiatives of the International Union of Superior Generals (UISG) in Sicily. Linking these initiatives will strengthen advocacy efforts of the Religious at the UN, as it will provide examples of good practice, which perhaps could influence ongoing migration conversations both in the UN and the European Union. It will make the religious response to the crisis more effective and efficient, and offer possibilities of intra-religious networking and networking with other faith- based and civil society organizations.

Source: Newsbrief JPIC February 2016

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