Pope, Car­di­nal Ta­gle urge politi­cians to de­fend mi­grants

Tempo - - News - (Reuters)

VAT­I­CAN CITY – Pope Fran­cis launched a global Ro­man Catholic cam­paign on Wed­nes­day to im­prove the lot of im­mi­grants and one of his top car­di­nals urged politi­cians to "touch the hand of a mi­grant" be­fore try­ing to stereo­type them.

The two-year "Share the Jour­ney" cam­paign comes at a time of grow­ing anti-im­mi­grant sen­ti­ment in the United States and many Euro­pean coun­tries where far-right par­ties have made in­roads.

On Sun­day the far-right, an­ti­im­mi­grant Al­ter­na­tive for Ger­many party surged to third place in a na­tional elec­tion, tap­ping into pub­lic dis­quiet over the ar­rival of more than a mil­lion mi­grants in Ger­many over the past two years.

The pope, who has made de­fense of mi­grants a ma­jor plank of his pon­tif­i­cate, launched the cam­paign in com­ments to thou­sands of peo­ple at Saint Peter's Square for his weekly au­di­ence, urg­ing Catholics around the world to be "open, in­clu­sive and wel­com­ing."

Italy's anti-im­mi­grant North­ern League has vowed to clamp down on mi­gra­tion from de­vel­op­ing coun­tries if it takes power in a coali­tion govern­ment af­ter next year's elec­tions.

At a news con­fer­ence at the Vat­i­can, Manila Arch­bishop Car­di­nal Luis An­to­nio G. Ta­gle called for a "cul­ture of per­sonal en­counter" where friend­ship sup­plants fear.

"I would in­vite the lead­ers to meet a mi­grant, touch the hand of a mi­grant, smell a mi­grant, lis­ten to their sto­ries, and you will see that they are like you and me," he said.

"They are not re­ally 'other.' They could be me. They could be my brother, my sis­ter, my par­ents," said Ta­gle, whose grand­fa­ther left China for the Philip­pines as a poor boy.

The two-year cam­paign of "ac­tion and aware­ness" is be­ing spear­headed by Car­i­tas In­ter­na­tion­alis, the world­wide um­brella of Catholic char­i­ties.

The cam­paign en­cour­ages lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties to fa­cil­i­tate en­coun­ters be­tween mi­grants and those who fear or den­i­grate them in church halls and pri­vate homes.

"Look them in the eyes, lis­ten to why they left their homes, how their jour­ney's been, see the real peo­ple be­hind the num­bers and scare sto­ries," Ta­gle said.

He urged politi­cians "not to close the doors on peo­ple who might en­rich your so­ci­ety."

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