06 Nov The Voice of the Order on the Phenomenon of Migration and Refugees
An extract from the report of the General Vicar, fr. Julio Bunader, to the 2017 UFME Assembly
Dedicating the Assembly of the provincial Ministers and Custodians of the Order in Europe to the issue of migrants and refugees, is a significant event, not only in the continued search for ways to assist our needy sisters and brothers, but also to allow ourselves to be challenges by that reality to discern our presence as the Brotherhood of the Friars Minor.
There is a lot of talk on the phenomenon of migrations and refugees, it is every day news and found in all communications mass media. In Europe it is the cause of much dialogue, political strategies and discussions; for example, the 2017 G20 meeting, where it was one of the more relevant issues. Additionally, for decades now the Church has dedicated a world day to it with an annual message of the Pope and events hosted by Episcopal Conferences.
A common fact is that migrations constitute the greatest global movement of people of all time and it is a structural reality of our society. Millions of people are forced to flee violence, wars, persecution and poverty or environmental catastrophes. They are men, women and children; families whose lives have been destroyed, to the point of losing homes, work and loved ones. We know, moreover, that to migrate is to also to search for new opportunities to improve one’s living conditions. As Pope Francis asserts we find ourselves with events that take on “increasingly the dimension of a dramatic world issue” (15/Jan/17 message).
The presentation consists of three points:
- Time of Grace and a Favorable Time. Approaching the phenomenon of migration and refugees, from the pastoral point of view, in particular the from the point of view of Pope Francis in documents EG, LS, and a reference to the final document of the CELAM, in Aparecida.
- Followers of Jesus Christ “who lowered himself in obedience”. Aspects of the Order that emphasize the mediations of our vocation and mission, that constitute the “voice of the Order” which compels us to share the reality of migrants and refugees.
- Hear the Voice of the Lord Today. Some criteria that will help us (UFME in particular) reach fraternal discernment, giving primacy to the novelty of praxis and shortening the distance between theory and real life (cf. 2: PdE).
Migrants and refugees are victims of an asymmetrical and inclusive globalization process, but also are the protagonists of new roads and new times. They are, in addition, privileged spokespeople for globalization. The changes of the last decades, especially in transportation and communications, have truly made our Earth into a village. On the other hand, the socio-economic inequalities between countries and regions invite the poorest of the poor to dream for and seek out a better future in foreign lands.
Accompanying the flow of migration creates a great opportunity for development and well-being for all in the countries of origin as well as in countries of destination. Migrations are not a threat, although they are a complex phenomenon, a global challenge that requires a global response. In this scenario, the Friars Minor in Europe are called and sent by the Lord and the God’s people await them.
I end with the desire of the brothers gathered at general Chapters, because I believe that it is a relevant voice of the Order:
We Friars Minor feel ourselves strongly committed to evaluating, in humility and truth, our whole life, structures and evangelizing activities to see if they give witness in a significant way to the spirit of the Beatitudes and truly cooperate in the transformation of the world according to God. We know that, despite our infidelities, the Lord maintains His trust in us alive and says to us unceasingly: “Come” and “Go.” Let us allow ourselves be conquered anew by Him. (2003 Final Doc 41)
In a rapidly changing world, it is a question of welcoming our present condition with faith, seeing it not as a catastrophe, but as a mystery full of signs that are part of God’s design. […] We need to continue Sarah’s laughter and be witnesses to joy.[…] we are being called once again to go out from the comfort of our homes and our lives. Eight centuries ago, […] Francis sent out his first brothers “two by two” to preach the Gospel by example, using words if necessary. And so we are being called to be, once again, ministers of the joy of the Gospel. We are being called to be ministers of the mercy of God. And we are being called, once again, to move out to the margins, to the margins, to those places where people need these gifts the most – whether these borders be as far away as the other side of the world or as near as the street where we live. This has always been the very core of our Franciscan way of life (2015 Final Doc 27, 32)