World Day of Migrants and Refugees (WDMR) is an annual celebration marked by the Church to increase awareness about migration and its opportunities, as well as its challenges. The day is marked on the last Sunday of September and has been celebrated by the Church since 1914. This year, the celebration will be marked on Sunday 24th September.
The Pope shares an annual message to mark the celebration and the theme for this year’s message is Free to choose whether to migrate or to stay. In his message, the Pope recognises the many reasons for flight, including conflicts and natural disasters, which force people to flee and deny them the opportunity to live a dignified and prosperous life in their native land. The Pope recognises the need for eliminating the causes of migration, calling for the shared commitment of all to recognise their responsibility and identify actions to be taken, but also to recognise what we need to stop doing in order to prevent the devastation and destruction of our common home.
The Pope speaks of the common good, respect for fundamental rights, and access to an integral human development to ensure each person is able to live a truly dignified and fulfilling life, to allow homelands to flourish and to ensure migration is a free decision. The Pope reiterates the importance of respecting the rights of migrants and upholding their dignity by building bridges and not walls, and to ensure there is always a community ready to welcome, protect, promote and integrate everyone, without distinctions and without excluding anyone.
The Pope’s message for this year is echoed in the guiding principles found in the Department for International Affairs of the Bishops’ Conference document Love The Stranger, which was published earlier this year. The document provides a Catholic response to refugees and migrants, recognising the need for safe routes and calling upon the Government to fulfil its obligations under international law and ensure fair policies that uphold the sanctity of life and the dignity of all those migrating. Love The Stranger further recognises the right to migrate and the right of all people to flourish in their homeland whilst also recognising how migration enriches our culture.
This year, CSAN together with the CBCEW, are hosting a webinar to mark WDMR and reflect upon the Pope’s message. We will be hearing from Bishop Paul McAleenan, the Lead Bishop for Migrants & Refugees at the CBCEW, and Christine Allen, Director of CAFOD. We will also be joined by a Vatican representative from the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development who will present the Pope’s message. Together, we will be discussing the right to migrate and how we can help homelands to flourish, as well as reflecting on Love The Stranger and discussing what action we can take in our communities.
We expect an insightful and engaging discussion, hearing from experts, and we encourage you to register for your place today: