A short reflection from Deborah Fisher OBE, Caritas Plymouth Manager, on migrants and refugees

In his message for the 106th World Day of Migrants and Refugees which will take place on 27 September 2020, Pope Francis reminds us that displaced people offer us an opportunity to meet the Lord: ‘The pandemic has reminded us how we are all in the same boat. Realising that we have the same concerns and fears has shown us once more that no one can be saved alone. To grow truly, we must grow together, sharing what we have, like the boy who offered Jesus five barley loaves and two fish… yet they proved enough for five thousand people (cf. Jn 6:1-15)!’

However, current debates about refugees and asylum seekers and particularly the Channel crossings are often negative and create a climate of mistrust and fear. Liam Allmark, Head of Public Affairs for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference, reminds us in a recent blog: ‘there are many reasons why a small number of people driven from their homes by war, poverty or persecution are currently trying to reach the UK from mainland Europe. Some have family here. Others have been mistreated by the authorities and are scared to remain where they are. Several know basic English, so have better life chances this side of the Channel. Essentially, they are making the kind of decisions any of us would in their circumstances… there is an urgent need for more safe and legal routes to the UK, so that people do not have to undertake dangerous journeys in the first place. This is essential for saving lives, but also integral to our understanding of one global family, in which we all must take responsibility for those who are most vulnerable.

Of the world’s eighty million displaced people, only a tiny fraction seek sanctuary in the UK. The vast majority are accommodated by the world’s poorest countries and many of our European neighbours play a much bigger role than us. Extending opportunities for resettlement and family reunification causes championed by so many of our churches, is surely now a more urgent moral duty than at any time in our recent history’.

This crisis can sometimes seem remote from our daily lives. It can be hard to know what to do to support those people caught up this situation.  But there are actions we can all take.

Keep refugees and migrants in our prayers. CAFOD has a range of prayer resources; lobby our MPs and politicians to ensure that there are safe and legal migration routes and that people are treated with dignity and respect; remind our friends and neighbours that ‘behind every refugee is a face and a story’ (Pope Francis) and share Pope Francis’ Message for the 2020 WDMR; support organisations providing assistance to those travelling the migration route such as Seeking Sanctuary, Jesuit Refugee Services,  Safe Passage and Borderlands

Prayer for Migrants and Refugees

Father, you entrusted to Saint Joseph what you held most precious: the child Jesus and his Mother, in order to protect them from the dangers and threats of the wicked.

Grant that we may experience his protection and help. May he, who shared in the sufferings of those who flee from the hatred of the powerful, console and protect all our brothers and sisters driven by war, poverty and necessity to leave their homes and their lands to set out as refugees for safer places.

Help them, through the intercession of Saint Joseph, to find the strength to persevere, give them comfort in sorrows and courage amid their trials.

Grant to those who welcome them some of the tender love of this just and wise father, who loved Jesus as a true son and sustained Mary at every step of the way.

May he, who earned his bread by the work of his hands, watch over those who have seen everything in life taken away and obtain for them the dignity of a job and the serenity of a home.

We ask this through Jesus Christ, your Son, whom Saint Joseph saved by fleeing to Egypt, and trusting in the intercession of the Virgin Mary, whom he loved as a faithful husband in accordance with your will. Amen.

Rome, Saint John Lateran, 13 May 2020, Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Fatima.

Picture from © Mazur/catholicnews.org.uk