International News

Pope: Popularism Threatens Migrants

Refugees from Eritrea tell Pope Francis about their journey to safety during a meeting Feb. 21 at the Vatican with participants in the VI International Forum on Migration and Peace. (Photo: Catholic News Service/ L’Osservatore Romano)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Indifference, fueled by populist rhetoric in today’s world, fans the flames of rejection that threaten the rights and dignity of migrants, Pope Francis said.

Refugees escaping persecution, violence and poverty are often shunned and deemed as “unworthy of our attention, a rival or someone to be bent to our will,” the pope told participants of the VI International Forum on Migration and Peace Feb. 21.

“Faced with this kind of rejection, rooted ultimately in self-centeredness and amplified by populist demagoguery, what is needed is a change of attitude to overcome indifference and to counter fears with a generous approach of welcoming those who knock at our doors,” he said.

In his speech, the pope said millions of people are being forced to flee their homelands due to “conflict, natural disasters, persecution, climate change, violence, extreme poverty and inhumane living conditions.”

To confront this challenge, he said, the church and civil society must have a “shared response” of welcoming, protecting, promoting and integrating migrants and refugees.

Providing access to “secure humanitarian channels” – legal paths to safety – is crucial in helping people who are “fleeing conflicts and terrible persecutions,” but are often met with rejection and indifference.

“A responsible and dignified welcome of our brothers and sisters begins by offering them decent and appropriate shelter,” the pope said.

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