A message upholding the institution of asylum for those fleeing from war, persecution or natural disaster, and invoking respect for the rights for all people on the move, has been issued by participants at a conference addressing xenophobia, racism and populist nationalism in the context of global migration.
The conference, held in Rome from 18 – 20 September 2018, was organised by the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, in collaboration with the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. Migrants and refugees attended the conference offering a first-hand perspective.
‘Conscious of a rise in xenophobic and racist reactions to refugees and migrants, we have striven to describe, analyse, understand and address the exclusion, marginalisation, stigmatisation and criminalisation of migrants and refugees, and the justifications for these attitudes and discourses which now exist in several different parts of the world, even within the churches’, the message says, acknowledging that the movement of people is an inherent feature of the human condition – ‘It belongs to the whole history of humanity – past, present and future – and the entire biblical narrative’.
‘The churches and all Christians have the mission to proclaim that every human being is worthy of respect and protection’, the message reads. ‘The churches are also called to live out, on a daily basis, the welcome of the stranger but also the protection and the mutual encouragement to all – each in the diversity of their origins and history – to participate according to their own talents in the building of a society that seeks peaceful well-being in equality and rejecting all discrimination.’
Introducing the conference WCC general secretary, Rev Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, said that today, refugees all over the world are fleeing conflict and violence, trying to find a new home, a safe space. ‘Many even lose their lives on their way, for example in the Mediterranean Sea not far from here’, said Tveit. ‘These crude realities of inhumanity must be addressed together by all who have means to do so. We have to do so also to protect ourselves from becoming inhuman.’
Churches are called to confront together the destructive forces of xenophobia, racism and populist, exclusive nationalism, he added: ‘We are here, because of our passion for the love of human beings’, he said. ‘The main role of the churches is to speak up for the refugees and make space for them.’
You can read the full message from the conference Xenophobia, Racism and Populist Nationalism in the Context of Global Migration.
You can also read the greeting to the conference from the Rev Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, WCC General Secretary.
See the WCC report of the conference on the WCC website.