The challenges facing migrants today, both in our own country and overseas, should not be underestimated, two members of the Irish hierarchy have said.
In a message for World Day of Migrants and Refugees, Bishop John
Kirby and Bishop Raymond Field warned that though migration may present
many opportunities, there were also many challenges facing them.
Many people are forced to leave all they know because of forces
outside of their control.
This affects not only the migrant themselves,
but also those they have left behind,” the bishops said.
Elsewhere in their message for World Migrant and Refugee Sunday (19
January), Bishop Kirby and Bishop Field prayed for all those who have
travelled far from their homeland in search of a better life.
“We remember those who have left our shores in the hope of making a
new life for themselves abroad; and also, those who have joined us to
begin their new life in Ireland.”
The theme for this year’s World Migrant and Refugee day is ‘Towards a better World.’
They also highlighted that a seminar will take place on 19 February which will address the challenges facing migrants.
The seminar, titled ‘Journeying Together – Challenges facing the
Migrant Today’, is hosted by two councils of the Irish Episcopal
Conference: the Council for Immigrants and the Council for Emigrants.
It will be chaired by the journalist and author, Shane Coleman, and will involve Church representatives and NGOs.
The seminar will provide a unique opportunity to explore both
emigration and immigration in an Irish, European and global context.
Key areas for discussion will be: the effects of migration on the
family; the undocumented, both at home and abroad; and Irish prisoners
overseas and foreign national prisoners in Ireland.
Meanwhile, in his first message for the World Day of Migrants and
Refugees, Pope Francis has emphasised that migrants and refugees do not
merely represent a problem to be solved, but are “brothers and sisters
to be welcomed, respected and loved”.
In his message, the Pope highlights how “Our societies are
experiencing, in an unprecedented way, processes of mutual
interdependence and interaction on the global level.”
The sheer number of people migrating from one continent to another,
or shifting places within their own countries and geographical areas, is
striking, the Pope states.
“Contemporary movements of migration represent the largest movement of individuals, if not of peoples, in history.”
He underlines that as the Church accompanies migrants and refugees on
their journey, she seeks to understand the causes of migration, but she
also works to overcome its negative effects, and to maximise its
positive influence on the communities of origin, transit and
“Particularly disturbing are those situations where migration is not
only involuntary, but actually set in motion by various forms of human
trafficking and enslavement.”
The Pontiff warns that nowadays, “slave labour is common coin!”
Yet despite the problems, risks and difficulties to be faced, great
numbers of migrants and refugees continue to be inspired by confidence
and hope; in their hearts they long for a better future, not only for
themselves but for their families and those closest to them.
In his message, the Pope acknowledges that while it is true that
migrations often reveal failures and shortcomings on the part of States
and the international community, they also point to the aspiration of
humanity to enjoy a unity marked by respect for differences, by
attitudes of acceptance and hospitality which enable an equitable
sharing of the world’s goods, and by the protection and the advancement
of the dignity and centrality of each human being.
The 2014 message by Pope Francis for the World Day of Migrants and
Refugees is now available for publication at:
The Council for Immigrants and the Council for Emigrants of the Irish
Catholic Bishops’ Conference work to raise awareness of the challenges
facing migrants and show solidarity with those affected by migration.
Bishop John Kirby is Bishop of Clonfert and Chair of the Irish Episcopal Council for Emigrants.
Bishop Raymond Field is Auxiliary Bishop of Dublin and Chair of the
Council for Immigrants of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference.