Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, addressed a side event co-organised by the International Migration Commission (ICMC), Caritas and the Holy See at the United Nations on “Responsibility and Solution Sharing: The Role of Religious Organisations in Responding to Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants.”
Cardinal Pietro Parolin said that the large movements of migrants and refugees are of grave concern for both the Holy See and the United Nations. He also said the issue is at the top of Pope Francis’ agenda.
He emphasised that the movements are cause for concern because they “are involuntary, caused by situations of conflict and violence, persecutions and discrimination, poverty and environmental degradation”.
Cardinal Parolin spoke of the role religious institutions and faith-inspired organisations have played in responding to the needs of refugees and migrants through the centuries. He said the event was a way of the Holy See expressing profound gratitude for what they have done and continue to do. It was also an opportunity to look at how to improve services in light of new challenges.
He said faith communities are attentive to people’s needs and key to facilitating collaboration. This is especially important where groups aim to destroy or expel believers of certain faiths.
Cardinal Parolin illustrated Pope Francis’s commitment to the current crisis saying he will oversee personally the migrant and refugee section of a recently-created Vatican ministry for Integral Human Development.
In April 2016, Pope Francis visited the island Lesbos with other religious leaders where they called for a “response of solidarity, compassion, generosity and an immediate practical commitment of resources” in dealing with migrants and refugees living in camps there. On that trip Pope Francis brought 12 of the vulnerable refugees back to Rome with him.
At the beginning of his pontificate, the new Pope’s first trip outside Rome was to the Italian island of Lampedusa, which many migrants had died trying to reach.
Cardinal Parolin ended his speech with Pope Francis’ words: “A nation which seeks the common good cannot be closed in on itself; societies are strengthened by networks of relationships. The current problem of immigration makes this clear…. dialogue is essential. Instead of raising walls, we need to be building bridges”.