The Church and the Migrants
In recent decades, the Catholic Church has been solicited in several places by undocumented or asylum-seekers, as well as by their support associations. Aware of its duties and responsibilities towards migrants as well as public authorities, in the name of its fidelity to Christ, the Catholic Church has endeavoured to live the welcome and to provide a mediation service. A time of questioning and debate was then opened in the face of complex and painful situations. Many Christians were confronted with a real material and moral distress that could not leave them insensitive.
The support provided was assured, in some places, in a strong tension: occupation of church premises, difficult partnership with certain associations, hunger strikes, misunderstanding on the part of the public authorities or public opinion, etc. Many questions were raised about how to host events that Christian communities had not chosen to experience, how to take into account the demands addressed, how to live solidarity and build a partnership with support associations, very diverse in their objectives and in their militant practices. Through all the debated questions that still arise today and which are far from being resolved, there is a patient and passionate search for a path of fidelity to the Gospel in the heart of complex and painful situations. For many months, we have heard the discouragements, expectations, trial and error and questioning of the actors of daily solidarity with undocumented people and asylum seekers. It is clear today that the action of the Catholic Church cannot ignore a commitment to migrants in search of solidarity, it continues to be determined in fidelity to the Gospel and to the tradition of the Church.
The question posed by the presence of asylum seekers and undocumented persons is not primarily a question put to the Church. This is a challenge to our French society but also to Europe, for whom immigration remains a
luck. Mr Kofi ANNAN, Secretary-General of the United Nations, reminded the European Parliament on 29 January 2004: “The message is clear: immigrants need Europe, but Europe also needs immigrants. A Europe that is inward-looking would become more petty, poorer, weaker, older too. An open Europe, on the other hand, would be fairer, richer, stronger, younger, as long as you know how to manage immigration.[…]Immigrants are part of the solution, not part of the problem. They must not become the scapegoats of the malays of our society.The responsible approach of the Catholic Church, which assumes its mission to accompany all men, to serve the unity of the human race and to proclaim the Gospel tirelessly. It first questions Christians – of all origins – within the Church about their ability to welcome men and women from other backgrounds.