Pope Francis plugged the one-million-kilometer “Global Solidarity Walk” for migrants and refugees Sunday, urging all Catholics to participate in the pro-immigration event.
The walk, organized by international Catholic relief service Caritas Internationalis, involves walking “side by side with migrants and refugees” but also has an explicitly political purpose. By walking together, we “send a strong message of unity to political leaders,” organizers declare.
The pope tweeted Sunday that the pro-immigration walk was like the journey of two disciples on the road to Emmaus after Christ’s resurrection, where they were joined by Jesus as they traveled.
— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) October 21, 2018
In September 2017, the pope said that it is Jesus Christ himself who asks us to welcome migrants “with arms wide open,” whereas a failure to do so stems from xenophobia.
Opposition to immigration “finds its explanation in an innate fear of the ‘foreigner,’ a fear exacerbated by the wounds caused by the economic crisis, the unpreparedness of the local communities, and the inadequacy of many measures taken in an emergency atmosphere,” Francis said.
That same month, Francis launched a two-year pro-immigration campaign to encourage a more welcoming attitude toward migrants around the world.
The campaign is run by Caritas Internationalis and was launched as a response to Pope Francis’ frequent summons for a “culture of encounter” with immigrants.
Our world “faces not a migration crisis, but a crisis of global solidarity,” Caritas says on its website. “Be part of a worldwide campaign to reach out to migrants, change perceptions, open hearts and minds, and strengthen the bonds that unite us all.”
The project hopes to provoke a “shift in thinking” on the issue of immigration by dispelling common “myths about migration,” the organization states.
On their website, the organization said that popular myths about migration include the idea that there are more migrants than ever before, that migrants live off welfare benefits and steal jobs from citizens, that closing borders will curb migrant flows, and that “people from poor countries migrate to rich ones.”
At a Vatican press conference, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila, president of Caritas Internationalis, said that world leaders should remember that “we are all migrants. Nobody can claim to be a non-migrant, we are all passing in this world.”
“Nobody is a permanent resident,” and no one can claim to “own the space they occupy,” he said, voicing his hope that there would be a universal “conversion of mind” on the issue.