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Today’s crises no longer have a single cause

MONTREAL (CNS): Caritas is on the climate change warpath, linking it with other emergency situations that are caused by human behaviour.

Speaking to northern American members of Caritas in Montreal, Canada, the president of Caritas Internationalis, Luis Cardinal Tagle, said that global emergencies must be looked at as being caused by people.

The International secretary general of Caritas, Michael Roy, told the Global Affairs Ministry in Ottawa, “In The Philippines, there’s an average of 20 typhoons each year. Floods and droughts increase. This will be the source of important migrations in years to come.”

The Filipino cardinal confirmed that natural disasters are now more brutal and deadly in his country.

He said that he cannot recall having floods when he was growing up, but now, even rain that is not heavy can pose a threat of flood. He added that the typhoon signals reached only level three, now they get up to level five.

“The winds are getting stronger, but the days are getting dryer. You have now long periods without rain. But when it rains, the whole day of rain can give the amount of water equivalent of one month of rain,” he said.

The archbishop of Manila explained that these phenomena are caused in part by human activity.

“In Asia, we see a distorted idea of development progress. It could be one of the causes,” he continued, adding, “Because land is disappearing, there is no more soil to absorb water. Available land becomes concrete, becomes cement. Rivers are given new routes, are derailed, become narrow.”

He continued, “We understand that a country must develop. But we must ask: What type of development do we need? This is where ecological justice enters. There are types of development that harm the environment.”

The cardinal explained, “The environment of nature is being forced to follow what human beings dictate. But in the end, nature is not developed. The poor are the first victims of ecological disasters.”

Cardinal Tagle said it is evident that the migrant crisis is mobilising national Caritas bodies in Europe and the Middle East, but he observed that this is not something new, as millions of people had to flee during both World Wars.

However, he pointed out that today, there is a greater array of causes, including ethnic conflicts and climate change.

Commenting on his February visit to refugee camps in Lebanon, the cardinal said, “What hurt me when I visited the camps, it is that these are not just people running away from war destroying their lives and their properties. They are also being smuggled.”

He added that the worst of it is that even though they are fleeing violence and war, on every step in reaching another country, there are traffickers demanding money.

“The migration problem has become a business.” He said. “And this is something that is so shocking.”

Roy described the manner in which people welcome strangers is a test of our humanity.

“We mustn’t erect walls, but rather built bridges. Those who build walls screw up. We can’t accept that. We can’t reject a suffering brother or a sister,” he said.

He pointed out that even though they may have a different religion and a different cu lture, it is our door that they are knocking. “We can’t reject them,” Roy said.

However, he added that welcoming refugees is not enough.

“We must work so that the reasons they’re leaving their homes behind stop. War in Syria and Iraq has to stop. We westerners have fuelled it enough. We must now accept a consequence of this war: welcoming those from there,” he commented.

He added that ultimately this must be a free process and those who want to go back to their homes when the opportunity is ripe, must also be able to do so.

“We need to get out of this universe of carelessness fuelled by this materialistic and consumerist evolution of our societies,” Roy said. “We need to re-humanise our society, to make it more welcoming toward those who suffer. This is our mission at Caritas.”