Jeremy Cain, Community Participation Coordinator for CAFOD in Hallam, wants you to act like a rock star.
At last night’s Grammy Awards, pop stars were almost queuing up to call for a society tolerant of immigrants and immigration. In particular, rock royalty U2 adapted the beatitudes to make the point that the American Dream is rooted in people bringing their skills and industry to a new country.
It’s a sentiment that chimes well with CAFOD’s Share the Journey campaign, though our take on it is a spiritual rather than a political one. Speaking back in August last year, at the 104th World Day of Migrants and Refugees, Pope Francis said: “Every stranger who knocks at our door is an opportunity for an encounter with Jesus Christ, who identifies with the welcomed and rejected strangers of every age.”
Now think about this as you read the following statistics:
• More people are on the move now than ever before. Every minute, 20 people around the world are newly displaced.
• Half of the world’s refugees are children, and thousands take flight without the protection of parents or other family members.
• Three out of four of of the world’s refugees are hosted by developing countries.
That’s a lot of refugees and every one of them is an opportunity to meet Jesus. As Christians, to turn away would be to turn away from the Lord.
Note, the Pope sees strangers as an opportunity not a threat, though it can be all too easy to view them in this way; and whilst it would be naive not to recognize the challenges of opening our doors a little wider, it would be a mistake not to face those challenges. We need to promote a generosity of spirit inspired by the Spirit.
To this end, Pope Francis is calling for us, as individuals and as societies, to do five things:
- Respect human dignity
- Protect the vulnerable
- Support host countries
- Keep families together
- Tackle the reasons for migration
This is a response inspired by faith and solidly practical. What’s more, it will make an enormous difference to people who are fleeing persecution and poverty; and it will make an enormous difference to us too: encountering Jesus cannot leave us unaffected.
Sometimes Christians worry what we would do if Jesus walked the earth today, would we follow him or would we run away from the demands we suspect he would make? Perhaps our response to refugees sheds light on this question. Either way, it’s an issue that’s not going away and we have to address it or risk being seen as irrelevant. Join us and make a difference.