Sunday, June 21, 2015

French Bishops' Statement and Message on Migrants for June 21, 2015

English translation of the statement and message by Rebel Girl.

Statement of the Permanent Council

Paris, Wednesday, June 17, 2015.

As the presence of migrants is creating growing tensions on the Italian border, at Calais, and Paris too, and with the coming of World Refugee Day on June 20th, the Permanent Council of the Bishops' Conference of France is launching a challenge on this issue that affects us all. At the same time, Msgr. Laurent Dognin, Msgr. Jacques Blaquart and Msgr. Renauld de Dinechin are addressing Catholics in France in the message: "Love therefore the immigrant, because you were immigrants in the land of Egypt." (Dt. 10:19).

Migrants: We are all affected

With ever-increasing intensity, the painful issue of migrants and refugees from Africa and the Middle East is being addressed to us.

For many reasons, often very tragic -- wars, poverty, climate disruption -- many are forced to leave their country where they can no longer live.

Many Catholics are already involved with their foreign brethren through hosting them, supporting them, and being concerned to give them decent living conditions.

We welcome this commitment and urge all Catholics in France to change their perspective, become close, overcome their prejudices and fears, and dare meeting.

It's not possible for us to withdraw into ourselves and ignore the misery of so many men, women and children around the world who seek only to live in dignity.

As did Pope Francis, we declare our "shame" in the face of what is happening in the Mediterranean as well as at Calais.

We must realize that this will unfortunately continue to worsen and that the whole national community, all of society is affected.

We urge our leaders to intensify international cooperation to meet the challenges. Europe must especially take responsibility and call its constituent countries to offer a real answer.

The dignity of human beings is at stake.

Msgr. Georges PONTIER, Archbishop of Marseille, president of the CEF
Msgr. Pierre-Marie CARRÉ, Archbishop of Montpellier, vice-president of the CEF
Msgr. Pascal DELANNOY, Bishop of Saint-Denis, vice-president of the CEF
Cardinal André VINGT-TROIS, Archbishop of Paris
Msgr. Jean-Claude BOULANGER, Bishop of Bayeux and Lisieux
Msgr. François FONLUPT, Bishop of Rodez
Msgr. Hubert HERBRETEAU, Bishop of Agen
Msgr. Jean-Paul JAMES, Bishop of Nantes
Msgr. Stanislas LALANNE, Bishop of Pontoise
Msgr. Benoit RIVIÈRE, Bishop of Autun, Chalon and Mâcon

Message for Sunday, June 21, 2015

"Love therefore the immigrant, because you were immigrants in the land of Egypt." (Dt. 10:19)

For a change of outlook on migrants ... The recent dramas of migrants adrift in the Mediterranean and Andaman Sea have once again solicited our emotion and compassion. Men, women and children take extreme risks at sea in search of a safe haven, while traffickers and sometimes state authorities or armed forces behave with an inhumanity we thought was gone. Listening to the media disseminating scenes of horror throughout the world...

Let us remember...You were once exiles!

 Many voices have expressed outrage at these events. It is good that this is so. We address here the Catholics of our country to invite them to step back in the face of these recent events, to change their outlook on migrants, to take action as citizens towards the authorities of the European Union who will meet on June 25th and 26th ...in short, not to be silent after legitimate emotion. By not letting emotions fall back down...

Let us remember...You were once exiles!

Migrants are not problems; they are men, women, children -- human beings. Migrants should not be seen primarily as a risk or a potential threat to national sovereignty. We must get out of an exclusively security or police view of the migration phenomenon. The social teaching of the Church is known. The human being must be at the center of our reflections. You can never exploit human beings. The sovereignty of a state is never absolute, for we must also take into account the wider common good that goes beyond any particular state. In challenging our states and European leaders ...

Let us remember...You were once exiles!

The issue must be defused -- France is a country of successful migrations. Everyone can find in their family history or in the history of migration signs of acceptance and successful integration. It's not about denying past or present difficulties. But basing ourselves on the success stories of migration to find what promotes acceptance, brotherhood, coexistence. Many fellow citizens have problems of unemployment, housing, exclusion, discrimination ... Migrants are not responsible for these social ills; they are victims, often more than other residents of the country. It's up to us to find ways of involving these migrants so that they can become part of the solution of our social ills. In celebrating the moments and methods of successful coexistence...

Let us remember...You were once exiles!

The number of migrants explodes when dealing with failed nations; there are hundreds of thousands, millions. Of these migrants from failed nations, France and the European Union welcome in only a small proportion. It's the neighbors of the failed nations that bear the brunt. It is the responsibility of the international community to help these "refugees" and restore the functioning of bankrupt nations.

The history of migration teaches us the importance of non-governmental players in the welcoming and support of migrants -- extended family, migrant associations, support groups, ethnic or national communities of belonging, religious communities, local authorities, local public services (school, work) ... We must take lessons from history for action today. By actively participating in the construction of a truly united world ...

Let us remember...You were once exiles!

It would be ideal obviously to promote cooperation between the society of origin and the host society, between migrant associations and the associations of origin ... we know the important role the various diasporas play in the world today, for the development and sometimes the survival of migrant communities of origin. By sharing the common wealth and multiplying partnerships with the most fragile...

Let us remember...You were once exiles!

We have not wanted to indicate miracle prescriptions for the management of migration. Because there are none. All exploitation of migrants is to be rejected; it is contrary to human rights, the foundations of our political order. It is contrary to the social teaching of the Church. The migrant is a human being first.

Let us remember...You were once exiles!

The generosity of the founding values of Europe can not ignore the fight against traffickers or the need for cooperation with countries of origin to promote the residents' stability.

We call for a change of perception on migrants ... and we suggest that on Sunday, June 21st, every community accompany its prayer with an act of welcoming, of sharing, fasting, a moment of silence, information. Let us remember...You were once exiles!

+ Laurent DOGNIN
Appointed Bishop of Quimper and Léon
Chairman of the Bishops Commission for the Universal Mission of the Church

+ Jacques BLAQUART
Bishop of Orléans
President of the Council for Solidarity

+ Renauld de DINECHIN
Auxiliary Bishop of Paris
Bishops Commission for the Universal Mission of the Church
Migrant Ministry

Ex. 23:9 : You are not to oppress the immigrant -- you know what his life is like because you too were immigrants in the land of Egypt. Dt. 10:19: Love therefore the immigrant, because you were immigrants in the land of Egypt.

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