‘It is very important that in our approach to other people we do not limit ourselves only to collecting money, which in some way justify us that we help foreigners, migrants,’ said Bishop Krzysztof Zadarko, delegate of the Polish Episcopal Conference for immigration, during a press conference organized by the Catholic Information Agency before the 106th World Day of Migrants and Refugees, which this year falls on Sunday 27 September.
Bishop Zadarko recalled that this year Pope Francis devoted his message to the issue of internally displaced persons. “It is worth remembering that worldwide, according to the estimates provided by organizations dealing with migrants and refugees, this number is in the order of approx. 33-34 million, of which approx. 8.5 million are people who are victims of internal conflicts, and approx. 20 million people flee within a given country as a result of natural or humanitarian disasters, ”he explained.
In his message, Pope Francis invokes the image of the Holy Family who were forced to flee to Egypt to save the life of Jesus Christ. Bishop Zadarko recalled that Pope Francis uses four verbs that are to characterize our attitude towards migrants and refugees: to welcome, promote, protect, and integrate. These four verbs have been in use for about four years, and in this document, the Pope completes them with six other verbs that form the core of the whole message: to know to understand; come closer to serve, listen to reconcile, share to develop, get involved to promote; work together to build.
“It is very important that in our approach to other people we do not limit ourselves only to collecting money, which in some way justify us that we help strangers, migrants. We can even help migrants far away in Syria and Iraq, while having as neighbors here people who remain anonymous to us without approaching them, without meeting them, ”said Bishop Zadarko.
Bishop Zadarko also called for concrete help for refugees staying in Lesbos, especially after the fire of the Moria camp, which took place several days ago.
Sr. Dolores Zok SSpS, superior of the Polish Province of the Missionary Congregation of the Servants of the Holy Spirit, stated that the service to refugees was close to her due to her twenty-year service to refugees in Africa. “What the refugees lack the most are human relationships, human friendship,” she said.
Father Jacek Gniadek SVD, director of the Fu Shenfu Werbist Migrant Center, referred to how to interact with migrants. “If we want to get to know refugees, we have to go to another person, get to know him, listen to him,” he emphasized.
The second group of immigrants in Poland after the Ukrainians are the Vietnamese. Fr Krzysztof Malejko SVD, the Vietnamese chaplain at the Fu Shenfu Verbist Migrant Center, told about them. “20 years ago we started working with Vietnamese Catholics and this is how the first community was created. Most of them are concentrated in the Warsaw agglomeration. We are currently running two communities in the capital and its vicinity, ”said Fr Malejko. He noticed that the Vietnamese community in Poland consists of young people, families with children. “They want to practice their faith in their own language. They want to attend Holy Mass. in Vietnamese, listen to a sermon in Vietnamese and go to confession in Vietnamese, ”he emphasized.
World Day of Migrants and Refugees has been celebrated since 1914. According to the Global Trends report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 79.5 million people – over 1% of the world’s population – fled their homelands in 2019. This is almost 9 million more than in 2018. This number has almost doubled in the last ten years.