‘Every migrant has a name, a face and a story’. Pope Francis
In 2023, people making dangerous journeys across the Channel to reach the UK are called by various names: ‘refugees’, ‘asylum seekers’, ‘migrants’, and often by more derogatory terms. ‘Love the Stranger’ is a new publication by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales Department for International Affairs that articulates our Christian duty to look beyond such labels and see the person who has left their homeland in search of a better life.
The document stresses that countries are always better off for the presence of people born elsewhere, who bring their own talents, cultures, and knowledge. Catholic parishes and schools have been enriched by the presence of families from all over the world. Love the Stranger is a call to action – not only to help those who come here, but also to facilitate and rejoice in their service to our society.
Bishop Paul McAleenan, Lead Bishop for Migrants and Refugees , emphasises the need to uphold their innate human dignity: “Our starting point as a society must be to recognise migrants and refugees as people. We need to understand their stories, their reasons for leaving their homelands and hopes for building a future here. We should never view people arriving from elsewhere as a political problem to be solved, but rather as brothers and sisters who we have a responsibility towards, and who greatly enrich our communities”.
Father Fabio Baggio CS, the Undersecretary of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, praised Love the Stranger’s rich review of, and reflection on, Catholic social teaching: “The text promotes an authentic culture of encounter at all levels and among all the actors involved. As we live in times in which the defence of the dignity of each human person may seem under threat, Love the Stranger invites us to not give up on the opportunity to live our catholicity ever more fully, to build more just and equal societies for the benefit of each and every person, and to be open to the contribution that strangers can offer as we care for their integral human development and ours.”
A CALL TO ACTION
There are many people within our diocese who need our help and support. Caritas Diocese of Plymouth can offer advice and resources to parishes wishing to explore further how to reach out to refugees, asylum seekers, migrants and trafficked people. Please email us on: firstname.lastname@example.org
St. Josephine Bakhita, pray for us.