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Migrants: CCEE meeting, “everyone’s inalienable right to human dignity is forgotten”

“In the years of economic recession, the public feeling that the national governments should firstly take care of their own citizens instead of migrants is rising. If, in media debates, migration is dealt with from an economic or political perspective only, the result is clear: everyone’s inalienable right to human dignity is forgotten”. This is written in the final statement that has been issued earlier today by the Council of European Bishops Conferences at the end of the yearly meeting of the bishops and leaders of pastoral services for migrants of the European Bishops Conferences, gathered in Stockholm, Sweden, from July 13th to 15th, about “Inspiring changes: training, informing and raising awareness of human mobility”. Three days of workshops and debates on some hot topics that are powerfully coming to the fore in Europe nowadays, about migration: “How to communicate, how to inform people, and how to train firstly the Catholic devotees in having the right perception of migration? What tools can we use? How can we show all the good things that are being done in Europe, partly through the Catholic Church? How can we fight against the many “fake news” that spring up in virtual forums and change reality?”. Just because migration “has become an increasingly political issue, the European Churches decided to deal with communication”. “The mismanagement or the deliberate manipulation of migration through the social media have often resulted in misunderstandings, if not in downright hostile attitudes towards the receiving communities”, pointed out don José María La Porte, dean of the Faculty of Institutional Social Communication of the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross. The attendees found out how “essential” and urgent the role of the Church is in “telling about human mobility in its tragedies as well as in its beauty and richness”, “by investing in the training of communicators and in the use of social media”. This – the CCEE release points out – is not about “increasing public actions or having new media tools, this is about expressing in a simple but clear manner the principles that the work of the Church is based on, such as everyone’s dignity”. In this respect, the European Churches insist: “one cannot support the defence of the dignity of the migrants’ life and be against the defence of life or of families; and, vice versa, one cannot support life, from conception to its natural end, and not defend the migrants’ life and dignity”.

In their conclusions, mgr. Duarte da Cunha, General Secretary of CCEE, and don Luis Okulik, Secretary of the Social Pastoral Commission of CCEE, placed emphasis on the importance of communicating “all the nice things that the Church does; the urgent need for an appropriate use of the language that describes human mobility; to clearly set each event in the right context, as the events are too often decontextualized; and to challenge the common narrative, by accepting firstly the fact of meeting other people, by loving them not in the abstract but in the concreteness of everyday life. In the area of migration, actions are stronger than many words, which are often unable to account for the tragedies and the loneliness experienced by many people far from home”.

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