Below is the message by Bishop Bernard Paul, president of the episcopal commission for the pastoral care of migrants and itinerants (ECMI), Catholic Bishops Conference of Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei which was published in Catholic Sabah on 17 Sept 2017. Migrant Sunday is observed locally on Sept 24.
The archdioceses and dioceses of the Conference of Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei have adopted this theme “Child Migrants, Vulnerable and Voiceless” for this year’s Migrant Sunday Celebration.
“The migrant children are the most vulnerable and fragile victims of war and persecutions. They arrive alone in their countries of destination; they are unable to make their voices heard; they easily become victims of violations of human rights. They are invisible because they are undocumented or unaccompanied.” – The Pontifical Council for Migrants & Travelers
According to UNICEF report, 31 million children live outside of their countries of birth. And 11 million of them are forcibly displaced. What happens to them? Their rights to live, learn and flourish are compromised. They suffer torture, physical violence, moral and psychological aggression. They are easy targets for smugglers, traffickers and sexual abuse; or recruited into militias or criminal groups; or become victims of organ trafficking, child labour and early marriage.
Maria, a refugee girl who escaped violence in Kenya, now schooling in Italy, made this call, “All children deserve the right to be children.”
Pope Francis reminded, “Every person is precious; persons are more important than things, and the worth of an institution is measured by the way it treats the life and dignity of human beings especially the vulnerable.”
Do we hear their cries? Is this phenomenon a sign of the times? Is the God of History still speaking in signs? Is this the time, the appropriate time for us to work with our compassionate God in history and in human community? It is a call to universal communion.
On 21 Feb 2017, Pope Francis introduced four verbs for ‘faith-in-action’ initiatives among migrants, that is, Welcome! Protect! Promote! Integrate!
May we, with courage and sacrifice, step out to WELCOME, PROTECT, PROMOTE and INTEGRATE the strangers, the travellers and sojourners into our space and time.
Together building His Kingdom!