“By sharing a bit more of the immense available resources in the world,” countries can, “very comfortably and very surely and very usefully,” meet the needs of all displaced persons.
Such is the point of view of the Canadian Jesuit Michael Czerny, recently appointed Under-Secretary of the new Vatican Department for Integral Human Development, reported Vatican Radio in English. Depending directly on Pope Francis, he took up his new post on January 1, 2017. Father Czerny is charge of the section that concerns refugees, migrants and survivors of human trafficking.
The priest explained that, through this new Department, Pope Francis is not seeking “to construct an immense program to mobilize unheard of resources,” but rather “to aid the hearts and spirits, the hands and feet of people everywhere,” in order to share what they can with those who are in need.
Father Czerny also said that the concept of “integral human development,” in the context of the distress of those who are forced to leave their home is a “field of real concern” and an “absolute priority” for the Pope whose own family emigrated from Italy and was welcomed in Argentina.
The Under-Secretary emphasized that this urgent subject “is, in my opinion, one of the thermometers of the holiness and well-being of a society.” If societies do not respond to the needs of migrants” satisfying their human dignity, there is something that is truly wrong.”
The Department for Migrants and Refugees is concerned with displaced persons whose “human rights and dignity as well as their fundamental reasons for hope are extremely threatened,” explained Father Czerny. “Our modest but ambitious mission is that forced migrants “feel and experience the Church’s accompaniment” at all the stages of their often perilous voyage,” he added.
Speaking of the present atmosphere of hostility towards migrants, Father Czerny affirmed: “Perhaps there is more truth on the table” now and “it would perhaps be worse if it was repressed in a certain way and not said.” At this “moment where people are in a higher state of alert”, he stressed the importance of focusing not on the fears or security concerns, which have nothing to do with the refugees,” but on those who “are in need of a place to install themselves and to begin to live again.”
Reflecting on the experience of his parents, who fled from Czechoslovakia after World War II, Father Czerny explained that decisions to leave one’s country are “never taken lightly,” but, on the contrary, such people “choose the least worst solution to their very bad situation and … they deserve all the help, support, sympathy and prayer they can receive.”
Translation by Virginia M. Forrester