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Pope launches campaign to help migrants and refugees

By Ryan McDougall

Pope Francis has launched a campaign to encourage Catholics to build bridges with migrants and refugees.

Titled ‘Share the Journey,’ the idea is to eliminate the stigma surrounding migrants and refugees alike, in order to make them feel accepted in both society and in the Catholic community.

Cardinal Luis Tagle, Archbishop of Manila in the Phillipines and president of Caritas Internationalis, believes the main goal of the campaign is to promote the return to the study of the scripture, ‘where God always had a soft spot in his heart for the most vulnerable.’

In an interview with Vatican Radio, Cardinal Tagle (pictured above with Pope Francis and migrants) said: “Through this campaign we hope to correct some negative myths about migrants and migration and also to address some of the roots of forced migration.”

The cardinal believes the action campaign will humanise refugees and migrants, rather than seeing them as a number.

“If we do not address this humanitarian crisis with the help of all governments and communities we will see generations of people with their hopes of a future destroyed,” he said.

In response to the campaign, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops have called for a National Week of Prayer and Action from Oct 7-13.

US organisations involved such as Catholic Charities USA have launched a website, www.sharejourney.org, to give insight into ideas and utilities to aid the campaign.

Ways in which people can help via the website include opportunities to volunteer, homily resources for priests, and new prayers for the faithful to recite during Mass.

Pope Francis has placed the cause of refugees and migrants amongst his top priorities throughout his papacy. His first trip outside of Rome in 2013 was to the small Italian island Lampdusa, where he celebrtaed Mass to commemorate the thousands of refugees who lost their lives in an attempt to reach Europe. He has criticised the ‘global indifference’ shown towards refugees and migrants.

In January, Pope Francis’ message during the World Day of Migrants and Refugees showed particular concern for child refugees and migrants. He said: “I feel compelled to draw the attention to the reality of child migrants, especially the ones who are alone. In doing so I ask everyone to take care of the young, who in a threefold way are defenceless: they are children, they are foreigners, and they have no means to protect themselves. I ask everyone to help those who for various reasons, are forced to live far from their homeland and are separated from their families.”

In the UK, refugees and asylum seekers and stateless people only equate to around 0.24 per cent of the population, less than 167,000 people. Despite some 39,000 applications for asylum being submitted last year, 21,000 were turned down by the Home Office.

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