Refugees, migrants, xenophobia and Catholics

Migration is a complex issue that has generated xenophobia, even in traditionally Catholic countries, Pope Francis says.

Speaking to an International Federation of Universities conference, Francis reflected on the conference theme “Refugees and Migrants in a Globalized World: Responsibilities and Responses of Universities”.

He said there is an urgent need “to do further studies into the root causes of forced migration with the aim of identifying viable solutions.”

This will involve reflecting on the negative, sometimes discriminatory, xenophobic reactions migrants face in countries of “ancient Christian traditions” and finding ways to raise awareness about this.

“It is appropriate to initiate further studies on the remote causes of forced migrations, with the aim of identifying practicable solutions also in the long term, as it is necessary first to ensure that people have the right not to be forced to emigrate,” he said.

“It is equally important to reflect on the negative, sometimes discriminatory and xenophobic first reactions to migrants in countries of ancient Christian tradition, to propose paths for raising awareness.”

Pointing out migrants and refugees have much to offer, Francis told the conference he hoped Catholic universities would develop programmes to help them.

These programmes would “promote refugee education at various levels, by providing distance courses for those living in camps and reception centres, plus scholarships that allow for their relocation.”

Francis invited Catholic universities to educate their students to study migration from a justice and global co-responsibility perspective.

He pointed out the Migration and Refugee Section of the Dicastery for Integrated Human Development has suggested a “20 Action Points” process.

Francis said following this process will lead the international community to adopt two Global Pacts, one on migrants and one on refugees in the second half of 2018.

In his view, universities can play their part through “incentives for student volunteering in programmes of assistance to refugees, asylum seekers and newly arrived migrants”.

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News category: World.

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