With attention centered on the challenges of how to deal with immigration following the deaths of hundreds of people attempting to reach Italy, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin, Ireland, spoke recently at the Contending Modernities Conference at the Notre Dame London Center.
Ireland, he noted, is undergoing a transition, with high levels of emigration and immigration.
Global migration, he went on to explain, is “certainly a key question in international reflection today.”
There are many dimensions of international life involved, he commented, ranging from political and economic issues, to matters of security and religious diversity. Overall it is an issue that is both complex and controversial.
It is also, he adverted, a theme that can be manipulated for political ends and can be used to create fear and anxiety.
“The only illustration of pure ethnic identity is our common humanity and our very similar DNA,” said Archbishop Martin.
He also explained that as Christians we start from a point of recognizing “the God-given unity of the human family.”
This is a concept not based on fear, but on fraternity and solidarity and it enables us to build a dialogue with Islam and other religions.
“The concept of a transcendent and sovereign God, a God who cares, loves and communicates that caring and love in the works of his creation, in the genius of humanity, in the unity of human family and in the integrity of all of creation, is the basis for such common language between faiths,” he said.
“Faith in God should free the believer from closed ideologies and narrow prejudice in order to be a constant seeker for truth,” he urged.
The goods of creation
Archbishop Martin also invoked the principle of Catholic social teaching of the universal destination of the goods of creation.
This principle, he explained, “stresses that God destined the earth and all it contains for all and for all peoples, so that created things could be shared fairly by all humankind, under the guidance of justice, tempered by charity.”
Thus, each person should have access to the material goods necessary for their development. It is not an affirmation that anything is at the disposal of anyone, he clarified. What it does mean is that private property is not divorced from the obligations of social responsibility.
“The affirmation that everyone is born with the right to use the goods of the earth can only flourish, however, if it exists within a juridical order on a national and international level,” he commented.
“Where is your brother?” he said, quoting Pope Francis’ words when he visited the Italian island of Lampedusa earlier this year.
Archbishop Martin also spoke about the situation of immigrant groups within nations. It is important, he said, that they not form closed communities that can be marked with frustration and marginalization.
“Our common humanity cannot therefore be witnessed to through imposed uniformity and pallid political correctness, but only in rejoicing in the difference and diversity with which God wished to endow creation,” he concluded.
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