Message for World Day of the Migrant 2019 – The Scalabrinian Missionaries Father Chiarello and Father Baggio speak

Monday, May 27, 2019, Pope Francis’ Message for the World Day of the Migrant and the Refugee 2019 was presented. The message was entitled “It is not just about migrants.” The Scalabrinian General Superior and the Under-secretary of the Migrants & Refugees Section also took part in the press conference

Monday, May 27, 2019, Pope Francis’ Message was presented for the World Day of the Migrant and the Refugee 2019, which will have as its theme “It is not just about migrants,” and it will be celebrated on September 29, 2019. Fr. Leonir Chiarello, General Superior of the Scalabrinian Congregation, and Fr. Fabio Baggio, Under-secretary of the Migrants & Refugees Section, also spoke at the press conference held in the John Paul II Hall of the Holy See Press Office.

Together with Fr. Michael Czerny, also under-secretary of the Section for migrants and Refugees, and Monsignor Jean-Claude Hollerich, Archbishop of Luxembourg and President of the Commission of Episcopal Conferences of the European Community (COMECE).

Pope Francis: “Migrants help us read the signs of times”

“It is not just about migrants – reads the Message of the Holy Father, divided into seven parts that indicate the issue at stake of the relationship with the other and with the different – it is also our fears, (…) it is about charity, (…) of our humanity, (…) not to exclude anyone, (…) to put the last in the first place, (…) of the whole person, of all people, (…) to build the city of God and man. (…) 

For this reason, the presence of migrants and refugees – as, in general, of vulnerable people – represents today an invitation to recover some essential dimensions of our Christian existence and of our humanity, which risk falling asleep in a lifestyle full of comfort. (…)

Therefore, it is not only the cause of migrants that is at stake, it is not just them that we are dealing with, but all of us, the present and the future of the human family. Migrants, and especially the most vulnerable ones, help us to read the “signs of times.”

Fr. Chiarello: “Wanting to stop migration is to want to stop history”

Fr. Leonir Chiarello, General Superior of the Scalabrinian Congregation: “The large numbers of international migrations are known: according to United Nations estimates, today there are about 260 million migrants in the world, and every ten years this number increases by about 50 million.

Migration is not an occasional or passing but structural phenomenon of current societies. They are the result of the imbalances of economic and social development, of wars but also from the expression of profound transformations of states and at the international level. 

Thinking of stopping migrations with administrative decrees or building barriers or walls is illusory. It’s like wanting to stop history. (…) it is depriving itself of mutual enrichment, which occurs in the meeting of people with different backgrounds. (…)

Knowing how to welcome, make space, listen to migrants requires a meeting with them. For us, Christians, meeting them is meeting God who reveals himself in their face. (…) It is not just about migrants, it is about how to be a Church.”

The interview with Ecclesia: “Migrants free us from our fears”

Fr. Chiarello then intervened during the broadcast Ecclesia, of Radio In Blu, in the episode of May 27, 2019. “Migrants, especially the most vulnerable, help us to read the signs of times, to get rid of our fears, encourage us to live in fullness our Christianity. (…)

I think the vision of the phenomenon today is a vision that we can define as short-sighted: we do not see far. Our attitude towards migrants is a wake-up call to moral decline. They are people we must meet, not people to be rejected. At international political levels, there is a tendency to see immigrants as those who endanger national security, but the Church gives us eyes to go beyond the human perspective.

 Migration is a phenomenon of the human, structural family of humanity: by seeing it this way, we can manage it correctly. The countries that have done it best are those that have experienced development. (…) In the past there have been solidarity that has allowed Europeans to be welcomed; today Europe is called to do the same.”

Fr. Baggio: “Let us not allow ourselves to be deprived of the encounter with the other”

Fr. Fabio Baggio, Under-secretary of the Migrants & the Refugees Section, presented the first four subtitles in which the Message is declined: “The fears we feel in the face of today’s migratory challenges are real, but we cannot let them deprive us of desire and the ability to meet the other and, in these, Jesus Christ. (…)

 Today the migrant brothers and sisters offer us the opportunity to live the highest charity, which is exercised towards those who are unable to reciprocate and perhaps not even to give thanks. (…) The little ones, the poor, the most vulnerable are those who pay the price of wars, injustices, exclusive development; we are called instead to include everyone on our journey of global growth so that everyone is given access to integral human development.”

The Vatican News interview: “The only priority is determined by need”

Fr. Baggio was then interviewed by Vatican News: “The opening of the heart is an opening that should not exclude anyone: in this sense there is no passport, no nationality exists, there is only one need that the communities -the Message is addressed in particular to the Catholic Christian communities- can recognize, needs that are present in all corners of our parishes, on our streets and to which they can respond without discriminating.

The only priority is determined by need, the need to be recognized. It is Jesus Christ who is present in this person, who must be recognized and loved.”