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Msgr. Robert Vitillo, Interview With Caritas Expert on HIV

ZE08073112 – 2008-07-31
Permalink: http://web.zenit.org/article-23393?l=english

Beyond Condoms in the AIDS Debate

By Karna Swanson

MEXICO CITY, JULY 31, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Teaching abstinence outside marriage and fidelity within has been proved to be much more effective in decreasing the spread of HIV than simply distributing condoms, according to the special advisor on HIV for Caritas Internationalis.

Monsignor Robert Vitillo, who will participate in the XVII International AIDS Conference, to be held Aug. 3-8 in Mexico City, adds that unfortunately, abstinence and infidelity are not given the attention they deserve among experts and researchers.

Some 25,000 experts, physicians, activists and decision-makers from around the world are expected to attend the conference organized by the International AIDS Society, which has at its theme “Universal Action Now.”

Caritas Internationalis sponsored a pre-conference seminar Wednesday for Caritas participants from Latin America, and on Aug. 5, together with the Jesuits of Mexico and the Catholic HIV and AIDS Network, it will host delegates from Catholic organizations in an evening of prayer and discussion.

In this interview with ZENIT, Monsignor Vitillo shares what he sees as the Church’s role in fighting the spread of the AIDS virus, and the role of faith-based organizations at the conference.

Q: You say a major challenge the Church faces with regards to AIDS is ignorance of what the Church is doing to fight it. What is the Church doing? What is unique about the Church’s approach?

Monsignor Vitillo: As I have been privileged to witness the response of the Catholic Church to the HIV pandemic on literally every continent, I have noted that the Church’s response is very consistent with its overall mission:

— To teach people both about the facts related to this pandemic, and about the permanent values that should be the foundation of our response. This includes both how to prevent the further spread of HIV — by observing sexual abstinence outside marriage and life-long, mutual fidelity within marriage — and how we should respond to those already living with or affected by the virus — with acceptance, love, and solidarity, and without discrimination, rejection, or stigmatization.

— To serve people. Here the Caritas organizations at the regional, national, diocesan and parish levels have played — and continue to do so — an important role in organizing and replicating health care, social services, emotional support, income-generation activities, orphan care, advocacy and self-help programs for and with persons living with or affected by HIV.

In addition to Caritas, there are many other Catholic organizations working to help those affected by HIV.

— To provide pastoral care to persons living with or affected by HIV.

Many people who know firsthand the impact of the virus are searching to deepen their relationship with God, especially as they face the challenge which HIV has posed to them and/or to their loved ones.

They also desperately want to understand that this virus has not been sent as a “punishment from God” — a number of bishops’ conferences, as well as Pope John Paul II, addressed this issue very clearly by explaining that, according to Catholic doctrine, God does not “punish” people by sending them illnesses.

Q: Last week 50 Catholic groups asked Benedict XVI to lift the Church’s ban on artificial contraception, and accused the Church’s stance of having “catastrophic effects” in the spread of AIDS. Does the Church’s position against condoms constitute an obstacle against fighting AIDS?

Monsignor Vitillo: I would like to slightly transpose this question in order to emphasize my strong conviction that the Church’s teaching, which insists on sexual abstinence outside marriage and lifelong, mutual fidelity within marriage, is indeed scientifically valid and has offered evidence-based proof that people who observe such behavior have been able to prevent the spread of HIV.

Studies in countries where the HIV prevalence rate has been decreased in recent years, such as Uganda, Kenya, and Thailand, indicate that people in these countries were more disposed to reduce the number of their sexual partners and/or to delay the onset of sexual activity than to adopt the use of condoms.

Such behaviors — reduction of sexual partners and delay of onset of sexual activity — are much closer to the Church’s teaching on sexuality and on prevention of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections than is an exclusive focus on condom promotion.

Regrettably, however, many scientists, HIV prevention educators, and AIDS activists are so fixed on condom promotion that they do not give due attention to the risk avoidance that is possible to achieve through abstinence outside marriage and mutual, lifelong fidelity within marriage.

I believe that the Church does a great service to HIV prevention efforts by focusing on risk avoidance and on deeper and longer-lasting behavior change that is necessary to make a significant impact on reducing — and, hopefully, stopping — the further transmission of HIV.

Q: Will faith-based organizations have a strong voice at this international conference, or is the work of these organizations seen as being on the margin?

Monsignor Vitillo: In recent international conferences on AIDS, the voice of faith-based organizations has grown stronger, but there always is room for improvement in this regard.

For the past several International AIDS Conferences, the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance (EAA), based in Geneva, has made efforts to organize an ecumenical pre-conference. This year, in Mexico City, the EAA has some 450 registered participants for the pre-conference that will be held from July 31 to Aug. 2.

The EAA also organizes an inter-faith exhibit booth at which many organizations — Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Jewish and others — exhibit their resources. Because this is a joint effort, the booth is large enough to “compete” with pharmaceutical companies, large governmental displays, etc., for the attention of the some 25,000 participants in the International AIDS Conference.

There have been efforts by some of the conference organizers, including the International AIDS Society, to include the voices of religious leaders and of those working with faith-based organizations.

Regrettably, for some groups, including some particularly aggressive activist groups, faith-based organizations represent an obstacle to an effective AIDS response. I believe that such thinking is deeply flawed and fails to recognize the crucial and life-saving response to AIDS that is embodied in the faith-based efforts.

Some of these groups receive substantial funding from foundations, and even from some governments, that attempt to promote a relativist, secular agenda in the world.

And these groups sponsor few, if any, direct services to those living with or affected by the virus, even though they represent themselves as the “voice” of people so affected. They certainly don’t represent the majority of poor and marginalized people who very much appreciate the engagement of churches and faith-based organizations in the global response to AIDS.

I believe that we need to engage such negative “voices” in respectful dialogue, but, at the same time, we must stay focused on the activities that will have the greatest impact on the lives of those who know firsthand the impact of HIV in their lives.

Q: Is there a divide between faith-based and secular organizations, or do they work together? Do faith-based organizations face any extra challenges?

Monsignor Vitillo: There certainly is positive experience and much more potential for faith-based and secular organizations to work together on those efforts for which they share common values and strategies.

For example, in June 2007, Caritas Internationalis and the Unions of Superiors General jointly sponsored a Night of Solidarity — an initiative of the World AIDS Campaign — to promote universal access to anti-retroviral medications.

As another example, Caritas Internationalis and the Catholic HIV/AIDS Network plan to join the “Making Medicines Child-Sized” advocacy campaign of the World Health Organization to promote medicines, including anti-retroviral medications, that are better adapted for use among children.

I believe that faith-based organizations face some particular challenges related to such collaboration:

— Many secular groups are not accustomed to working with faith-based organizations. The Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance recently published a manual titled “Building Better Partnerships” to assist such groups to understand better the major faith traditions, the values that undergird their beliefs and actions, and the strategies employed by them in responding to AIDS.

— Faith-based groups must exercise particular caution to avoid compromising their beliefs and values when they engage in such collaboration with secular groups, and must be careful to avoid creating any scandal through such collaboration.

— Such collaboration may require that faith-based and secular groups “agree to disagree” on certain issues and make special efforts to respect each other without compromising their own basic identity and values.

Q: What is the message Caritas brings to the table at this conference? Conversely, what is Caritas hoping to take away?

Monsignor Vitillo: Caritas participants bring many gifts and skills, as well as needs, to the table of the International AIDS Conference.

First of all, we must remember that Caritas is rooted in Catholic teaching, especially in the social doctrine of the Church. That teaching brings us a vision of the whole person, created in the image of God, gifted with a God-given, unique and irrevocable dignity.

Catholic doctrine also reminds us that, as a Church, we are a community and must act as a leaven to help people, especially those who are most poor, vulnerable and marginalized, to develop themselves, even as we look forward to the fulfillment of our development at the end of our earthly lives and at the end of this world.

This vision is beautifully articulated in “Deus Caritas Est,” the first encyclical of our Holy Father, Benedict XVI. The Confederation of Caritas Internationalis has studied and continues to reflect on this encyclical with particular care and attention, and we bring that reflection to all our responses to the world social challenges and natural and human-made emergencies, including that of the HIV pandemic.

This equips us to bring to the International AIDS Conference a desire to identify more than technical or temporary solutions to this pandemic and, alternatively, to identify solutions based on values and on long-term behavior change on the level of relationships between individuals and in society as a whole.

For the past 20 years our confederation has joined other Catholic organizations in sharing both our learning and experience in responding to HIV and in advocating for more just policies and solutions to problems related to this pandemic. I think that we will have more participants from Catholic organizations than at previous conferences, so I hope we can make our presence known and appreciated.

Finally, I think that I can speak for other Caritas participants when I say that we hope to learn more — the current scientific evidence related to the pandemic, projections for the future, effective strategies for prevention, care, support, and treatment. Of course, we will need to assess such strategies from the “lens” of our Catholic values and teaching.

And we wish to deepen our appreciation for the firsthand experience of those who live with or have been affected directly by HIV, and to engage them more actively in our Caritas-sponsored responses to the pandemic.

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Filed under: AIDS, Medical Ethics

Cardinal McCarrick and Cardinal Mahony on Immigration Policy

Cardinals say immigration at ‘dark moment’ in US but call for hope

By Patricia Zapor
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Two Catholic cardinals called the current U.S. immigration situation “a terrible crisis” and “a dark moment in our nation’s history” in remarks they made July 28 at the opening Mass and plenary session of the 2008 National Migration Conference.

Both Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington, and Cardinal Roger M. Mahony of Los Angeles urged participants to hold on to hope in their work with immigrants for local and national church agencies.

The July 28-31 conference attended by more than 850 people was co-sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Catholic Charities USA and Catholic Relief Services.

Much of the agenda, built around the theme “Renewing Hope, Seeking Justice,” reflected the struggles faced by those who work with immigrants.

Workshops were scheduled on topics such as “How to respond to federal raids,” “Identifying and supporting survivors of traumatic events,” “A Catholic response to human trafficking” and “Parenting challenges from an African immigrant perspective.”

Another two dozen workshop sessions dealt with legal issues including “Filing waivers of inadmissibility” and “Immigration law and crimes”; strategies for fundraising; and getting out the church’s message on immigration.

“I see our challenge as one of shouting out the message of the Gospel, the words of the holy fathers, the unchanging teaching of the church, and in the profound conviction of our nation’s history that the real heart of America has not changed, that its willingness to right a wrong has not faulted, that it needs only continuous courage, unwavering confidence in the goodness of people and a trust in God’s love for the poor and the stranger,” said Cardinal McCarrick in his homily July 28.

Drawing from the Gospel reading of the parable of the mustard seed, Cardinal McCarrick said the story is full of optimism “that the kingdom of heaven itself can be sown in men’s hearts like a seed.”

The sowing of seeds is a theme in many of Jesus’ parables, he noted, with one important lesson that the seed is the word of God.

He said that lesson “is often lost because of the hardness of men’s hearts, the timidity of their belief and the temptations of the world, which sometimes allure them into political positions which they know in their hearts are wrong, since they do not conform to the loving providence of God.”

He said the parable also has a message “to keep sowing the seed, no matter what the likelihood of success … no matter how hard the sowing may be, no matter how challenging the prospects of success, keep sowing, keep sowing in confidence that God’s providence will provide the good soil. Do not give up; your seed will reach it yet; keep sowing, because if you stop the people will perish.”

Cardinal Mahony more directly took on the failure of Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform legislation and the federal enforcement policies that have led to “the separation of families, the harassment and profiling of U.S. citizens and legal residents, the expanded use of detention against those who are not a flight risk or a danger and, tragically, deaths in the United States desert.”

The recent national policy described as “deportation by attrition” has a goal of creating “such a dangerous and unwelcoming atmosphere that immigrants and their families leave the United States because they have no other choice,” said Cardinal Mahony.

It has led to fear among immigrant communities and a hostile atmosphere, “fanning the flames of intolerance, xenophobia and, at times, bigotry,” he continued.

“Such a national policy is doomed to fail because it underestimates the human spirit, the spirit of hope that we celebrate in this gathering,” the cardinal said.

The very act of migration is a hopeful one, he said, because it is based in the belief that a better life is possible for the migrant and his family.

He encouraged conference attendees to consider the call to hope expressed by Pope Benedict XVI in the encyclical “Spe Salvi” (“Saved by Hope”).

Hope “gives us the courage to place ourselves on the side of the good even in seemingly hopeless situations, aware that, as far as the external course of history is concerned, the power of sin will continue to be a terrible presence,” the encyclical said.

Cardinal Mahony said that, “despite the attacks on our position and on those we serve, we must not lose faith as to the rightness of our cause and of our service to our immigrant brothers and sisters. The church must remain a prophetic voice in an increasingly hostile wilderness, defending her mandate, given by Christ, to welcome the stranger.”

He outlined some suggestions for the church to work to change the current situation, including continuing to reach out and support immigrants; holding elected officials accountable by insisting on a human approach to immigrants; changing attitudes toward migrants through education; and working to reform immigration laws.

“While we are bound to respect our laws and not violate them, we also are bound to correct unjust laws,” Cardinal Mahony said. “The terms ‘rule of law’ and ‘national security’ should no longer be used to justify the harsh and inhumane treatment of immigrants, refugees or asylum seekers. While we acknowledge the right and the need for our government to enforce the law, we must remind our fellow Americans that man-made law does not permit the violation of God’s law.”

A letter of greeting to the conferees from Cardinal Renato Martino, as president of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers, was read by Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, the council secretary.

Cardinal Martino said an approach to the difficulties of migration should be intercultural, ecumenical and interreligious.

He said political action on migration should be comprehensive and “not turn the immigrant into the scapegoat for other crucial social issues, nor a threat to security and stability.”

The basis for church action on behalf of immigrants is “the affirmation that all persons are equal, well beyond the differences deriving from origin, language and culture,” Cardinal Martino said.
The church’s approach “affirms the central role and sacred character of the human being independently from his/her regular or irregular legal status. … The church is more and more convinced that making the most of the ethical-religious dimension of migration is the surest way to reach also other goals of high human and cultural value.”

Other prelates attending the conference included New York Cardinal Edward M. Egan; Guatemalan Bishop Alvaro Ramazzini Imeri of San Marcos; Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City, chairman of the bishops’ migration committee; Bishops Jaime Soto of Sacramento, Calif., Thomas G. Wenski of Orlando, Fla., Frank J. DeWane of Venice, Fla., and Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn, N.Y.; and Auxiliary Bishop Rutilio J. del Riego of San Bernardino, Calif.

Filed under: Migration, Social Doctrine, Social Justice

Vatican Message to US Migration Congress

ZE08072805 – 2008-07-28Permalink: http://www.zenit.org/article-23358?l=english
“All Persons Are Equal, Well Beyond the Differences”
WASHINGTON, D.C., JULY 28, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Here is the message Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers, sent to the 2008 National Migration Conference, which is under way in Washington, D.C. through Thursday.
The theme of the conference, sponsored by the U.S. bishops, is “Renewing Hope, Seeking Justice.”
* * *
Your Eminences,Your Excellencies,Honorable Participants,Ladies and Gentlemen:You are gathered here for the 2008 National Migration Conference on the theme “Renewing Hope, Seeking Justice”, organized by the “Migration and Refugee Services” (USCCB/MRS) and co-sponsored by the “Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc.” (CLINIC).
Being it impossible for me to be physically with you, I make myself present to you through this Message, happy to encourage and praise your annual effort and to wish you every success.
I believe it is important to underscore, with you and for you, first of all, the positive aspects of migration especially in the perspective of the pastoral care of the Church. After all, it is in this context that places itself the Instruction “Erga Migrantes Caritas Christi” (The Love of Christ Toward Migrants) of our Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, approved by the Servant of God John Paul II, on May 1st 2004, and published two days later. This document, viewing the migration phenomenon under a new light, states that “the cultural situation today, global and dynamic as it is, calls for the incarnation of the one faith in many cultures and thus represents an unprecedented challenge, a true kairòs for the whole People of God” (n. 34).
As a matter of fact, this condensed expression condenses a series of positive features, rising above the controversial and dark facets of migration, beginning with the observation that “the passage from monocultural to multicultural societies can be a sign of the living presence of God in history and in the community of mankind, for it offers a providential opportunity for the fulfillment of God’s plan for a universal communion” (n. 9).
Moving the focus from the phenomenon itself to the people going through migration, it must be recognized that “migrants, too, can be the hidden providential builders of such a universal fraternity together with many other brothers and sisters. They offer the Church the opportunity to realize more concretely its identity as communion and its missionary vocation” (n. 103). Therefore, broadening even more the scope of this vision, it continues: “Today’s migrations may be considered a call, albeit a mysterious one, to the Kingdom of God, already present in His Church which is its beginning (cf. LG 9), and an instrument of Providence to further the unity of the human family and peace” (n. 104).
The far-reaching vision of the Instruction, in the end, demonstrates that “the migration phenomenon, by bringing together persons of different nationalities, ethnic origins, and religions into contact, contributes to making the true face of the Church visible (cf. GS 92) and brings out the value of migrations from the point of view of ecumenism and missionary work and dialogue” (n. 38).
In fewer words, the way of thinking of the Church, expressed particularly through the “Erga Migrantes Caritas Christi,” urges Christians to react to the challenges of migration in a positive, decisive, convinced, and coordinated way. The migration phenomena, in fact, are not confronted only by means of a series of random good deeds (first welcome), that are only the first step towards planned interventions with a much larger scope. A simplistic vision of the difficulties must give way to a global vision of all the human experiences that enter into the confrontation, the dialogue, the enrichment, and the interchange between different peoples. The development of an approach that be intercultural, ecumenical, and inter-religious is absolutely necessary, it demands the converging of a great number of responsibilities and offers new opportunities, as the “Erga Migrantes Caritas Christi” observes: “The growing number of Christian immigrants not in full communion with the Catholic Church offers particular Churches new possibilities of living ecumenical fraternity in practical day-to-day life and of achieving greater reciprocal understanding between Churches and ecclesial Communities, something far from facile irenicism or proselytism” (n. 56).
In this context the pastoral concern of the Church shows a singular merging of strategies and contents, proposing a course that will respect and build on the person of the migrant: keeping in mind the structural character of migrations, it is then expedient also to develop a political action explicit and comprehensive, that does not turn the immigrant into the scapegoat for other social crucial issues, nor a threat to security and stability. Our Instruction clearly emphasizes this point: “the precarious situation of so many foreigners, which should arouse everyone’s solidarity, instead brings about fear in many, who feel that immigrants are a burden, regard them with suspicion and even consider them a danger and a threat. This often provokes manifestations of intolerance, xenophobia and racism” (EMCC n. 6).
The basis for the action of the Church, instead, is the affirmation that all persons are equal, well beyond the differences deriving from origin, language and culture, in the belief of the unity of the human family. The approach of the Catholic Church, therefore, affirms the central role and sacred character of the human being independently from his/ her regular or irregular legal status, most of all in cases of defenselessness and marginalization, taking also into due account the family. Not only, the Church is more and more convinced that making the most of the ethical-religious dimension of migration is the surest way to reach also other goals of high human and cultural value.
[The message continued in Spanish]Naturally there exists the need for a specific pastoral care, especially for the first and second generations of immigrants, which is laid out in “Erga Migrantes Caritas Cristi” (cf. Parts II, III and IV), under the responsibility of the local bishop, but in communication with the Church of the originating nation (cf. Ibid. No. 70). In this respect, even in the United States, a cordial reception of “Erga migrantes caritas Christi” is necessary, such as the reception in other countries.[Translation by ZENIT]
Finally, I am happy to encourage you to study and to delve into the migration issues that are on the agenda for these days, and in communion of prayer I extend my best wishes for the success of this very important happening.
Cardinal Renato Raffaele MartinoPresident of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant PeopleVatican City, July 16, 2008

Filed under: Migration, Social Doctrine, Social Justice

Cardinal Looks at Role of Providence in Migration

ZE08072804 – 2008-07-28Permalink: http://www.zenit.org/article-23357?l=english

Says Phenomenon Helps Make Church’s Face Visible

WASHINGTON, D.C., JULY 28, 2008 (Zenit.org).- The phenomenon of migration contributes to making the true face of the universal Church visible, says a Vatican official.

Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers, affirmed this in a message sent to the 2008 National Migration Conference, sponsored by the U.S. bishops, and under way in Washington, D.C. The theme of the conference is “Renewing Hope, Seeking Justice.”

The cardinal began his message affirming the importance of underscoring the positive aspects of migration, “especially in the perspective of the pastoral care of the Church.”Referring to “Erga Migrantes Caritas Cristi,” a 2004 instruction from that pastoral council, the prelate said the document views the migration phenomenon under a new light.”

The passage from monocultural to multicultural societies can be a sign of the living presence of God in history and in the community of mankind, for it offers a providential opportunity for the fulfillment of God’s plan for a universal communion,” the cardinal cited.He added: “Moving the focus from the phenomenon itself to the people going through migration, it must be recognized that ‘migrants, too, can be the hidden providential builders of such a universal fraternity together with many other brothers and sisters.

They offer the Church the opportunity to realize more concretely its identity as communion and its missionary vocation.'”Therefore, broadening even more the scope of this vision, it continues: ‘Today’s migrations may be considered a call, albeit a mysterious one, to the Kingdom of God, already present in his Church, which is its beginning, and an instrument of Providence to further the unity of the human family and peace.'”

The pontifical council instruction, Cardinal Martino affirmed, “demonstrates that ‘the migration phenomenon, by bringing together persons of different nationalities, ethnic origins, and religions into contact, contributes to making the true face of the Church visible and brings out the value of migrations from the point of view of ecumenism and missionary work and dialogue.'”

Christian reactionThe Vatican official’s message went on to consider the Church’s call to Christians in the face of the migration phenomenon.”A simplistic vision of the difficulties must give way to a global vision of all the human experiences that enter into the confrontation, the dialogue, the enrichment, and the interchange between different peoples,” he said. “

The development of an approach that be intercultural, ecumenical, and interreligious is absolutely necessary, it demands the converging of a great number of responsibilities and offers new opportunities.”

The cardinal added that it is “expedient also to develop a political action explicit and comprehensive, that does not turn the immigrant into the scapegoat for other social crucial issues, nor a threat to security and stability.”Again citing “Erga Migrantes Caritas Cristi,” he said, “

The precarious situation of so many foreigners, which should arouse everyone’s solidarity, instead brings about fear in many, who feel that immigrants are a burden, regard them with suspicion and even consider them a danger and a threat. This often provokes manifestations of intolerance, xenophobia and racism.”

“The basis for the action of the Church, instead, is the affirmation that all persons are equal, well beyond the differences deriving from origin, language and culture, in the belief of the unity of the human family,” the cardinal affirmed.

“The approach of the Catholic Church, therefore, affirms the central role and sacred character of the human being independently from his or her regular or irregular legal status, most of all in cases of defenselessness and marginalization, taking also into due account the family. Not only, the Church is more and more convinced that making the most of the ethical-religious dimension of migration is the surest way to reach also other goals of high human and cultural value.”

— —- —On the Net:Erga Migrantes Caritas Cristi: www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/migrants/documents/rc_pc_migrants_doc_20040514_erga-migrantes-caritas-christi_en.html

Filed under: Migration, Social Doctrine

Caritas Group Decries European Immigration Rule

Recalls Opposite Situation in Colonial Times

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica, JULY 23, 2008 ( Zenit.org ).- The Caritas network of Latin America and the Caribbean is reminding Europe that immigrants are not delinquents.

A joint statement from representatives of the network responded to the “Return Directive,” approved by the European Union last month. The measure, which could go into effect in 2010, has been criticized by human rights groups and Latin American government officials as overly harsh. It allows for up to 18 months’ detention prior to deportation and banishment from the E.U. for several years.

The Caritas statement appeals to the European Parliament and its representatives in European Union governments, to “desist from the tendency to criminalize migrations and the expulsion of people in irregular situations.”

The statement is signed by Bishop Fernando Bargalló, president of the Latin American and Caribbean Caritas, and by José Antonio Sandoval, executive secretary of the secretariat.

The E.U. directive, the statement adds, “is contrary to a global, safe, humane migratory system consistent with the fundamental rights of the human person.”

The communiqué’s signatories reject “categorically that migrants, being in an irregular situation, should be regarded as criminals, promoting their expulsion, measures that deprive them of liberty and ban them from entry.”

The signatories expressed their special opposition to the “application of these measures to minors, as we believe this violates their fundamental rights.”

They expressed their disagreement “with the shielding of economies and systems of social protection that for years have benefited from the effort of a working population seeking to improve the living conditions of their families.”

Brothers and sisters

The Caritas statement recalled that religious traditions teach the faithful to welcome one another with love.

“Every day we witness the suffering of immigrant families who have lost loved ones, who died at sea, or of immigrants themselves who have experienced exploitation in their work or abuse at the hands of human traffickers and other unscrupulous individuals,” it continued. “We also witness the pain of those who remain; we see children and elderly people taking on responsibilities that do not correspond to them to take care of homes, and we also see the daily sacrifice, full of love and tenderness, to take care of families from a distance.”

It is alarming, say the signatories, that educated Europe, a traditional land of asylum and a rich land, has approved this directive to expel immigrants in irregular situations.

It is painful “to witness that representatives of countries such as France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Holland, England, etc., whose migrations in colonial times to America, Asia and Africa, represented for them not only an immense opening of horizons but also the concrete possibility of economic growth, have forgotten that recent history and now vote and approve, in an ill-timed manner, this inhuman directive,” they added.

The Caritas statement appeals instead for measures from Europe to help fledgling economies in Latin America.

“As organizations and networks of a religious nature, of solidarity and charity, we call attention to the ethical dimension of the European Directive,” the statement concluded, “and to the need to put into practice policies that safeguard the human dignity of all people.”

Filed under: Caritas, Migration, Social Justice