Pope Francis challenges those stirring up fear of migrants

Pope calls for peace, not the ‘sowing of violence, racial discrimination and xenophobia’

Pope Francis: urges faithful to see global migration as “an opportunity to build peace”.   Photograph: Andrew Medichini/AP

Pope Francis: urges faithful to see global migration as “an opportunity to build peace”. Photograph: Andrew Medichini/AP


Pope Francis has issued a stark warning against those who stoke fears over migrants, refugees or asylum seekers. “Many destination countries have seen the spread of rhetoric decrying the risks posed to national security or the high cost of welcoming new arrivals, and by doing so demeans the human dignity due to all as sons and daughters of God,” he said.

In a message to mark World Day of Peace on January 1st next, he continued “those who, for what may be political reasons, foment fear of migrants instead of building peace are sowing violence, racial discrimination and xenophobia, which are matters of great concern for all those concerned for the safety of every human being.

“All indicators available to the international community suggest that global migration will continue for the future. Some consider this a threat. For my part, I ask you to view it with confidence as an opportunity to build peace.”

Migrants, refugees and asylum seekers “do not arrive empty-handed. They bring their courage, skills, energy and aspirations, as well as the treasures of their own cultures; and in this way, they enrich the lives of the nations that receive them,” he said.

He stressed the importance of ensuring access to all levels of education for their children and young people. This would “enable them not only to cultivate and realise their potential, but also better equip them to encounter others and to foster a spirit of dialogue rather than rejection or confrontation,” he said. They should also be allowed “participate fully in the life of the society that welcomes them, as part of a process of mutual enrichment”.

Harmonious development

On the other hand, governments had “a clear responsibility towards their own communities, whose legitimate rights and harmonious development they must ensure, lest they become like the rash builder who miscalculated and failed to complete the tower he had begun to construct”, he said.

In a joint message, the Catholic primate Archbishop Eamon Martin and Church of Ireland primate Archbishop Richard Clarke spoke of “newcomers to our country, perhaps of a different religious faith and culture, who feel that they are objects of suspicion and dislike”. They pointed out that “Our Lord assures us that we meet him when we care for those who need us, whoever they may be.”

The Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin said “words and phrases like ‘direct provision’, ‘homelessness’, ‘dying on our streets’ are ideas we had hoped were gone from our vocabulary and from our national life. They sit ill with the expectations of a modern democracy that prides itself on equality of opportunity and progress for all.”

Catholic Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin said that people“can sometimes feel that the challenges of poverty and exclusion are too great for any individual.

“We need courageous and decisive plans and sufficient funding to overcome the suffering and the deprivation of those who live on the precarious margins of society. But people also need the comfort of simple human warmth. It costs nothing but our effort.”