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Catholics must aid and defend refugees

VATICAN CITY (CNS): The laity has an obligation to root out traces of xenophobia from their hearts and recognise refugees as their brothers and sisters—children of God, whose dignity must be protected, a new Vatican document, Welcoming Christ in Refugees and Forcibly Displaced Persons, released on June 6, proclaims. 

Published by the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travellers and the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, it contains pastoral guidelines for providing material and spiritual assistance to people forced to leave their homes. 

It noted that since the mid-1980s, the debate surrounding refugees and other asylum seekers has become “a forum for political and administrative election purposes which fed hostile and aggressive attitudes among the electorate.” 

Antonio Maria Cardinal Vegliò, president of the council, told reporters that countries are focussed more on deterring newcomers from reaching their shores than they are on offering protection and a welcome to suffering people fleeing situations that threaten their lives and dignity. 

He said that from a Catholic point of view “every policy, initiative or intervention in this area must be inspired by the principle of the centrality and dignity of the human person.” 

Robert Cardinal Sarah, president of Cor Unum, said being Christian means trying to meet both the material and spiritual needs of refugees and displaced people, who “ask us for a commitment of love that first of all restores their dignity as persons made in the image and likeness of God.” 

The cardinal said, “Along with bread, they need love that nourishes their spiritual dimension” and that love is precisely what gives witness to “the love with which Christ loves us and saves us.” 

The new document was designed to update the 1992 document, Refugees, A Challenge to Solidarity......


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