Vincentian perspectives on migration

Guillermo Campuzano, CM, Congregation of the Mission NGO representative at the United Nations, offers the following Vincentian perspectives on Migration and the Movement of Peoples.  He writes…

In the United Nations we, DCs, Sisters of Charity Federation, CMs, are a part of the NGO Committee on Migration, which is “a coalition of organizations worldwide working towards the full realization of migrants rights.  We advocate, educate, and collaborate to encourage the promotion and protection of migrants and their human rights, in accordance with the UN Chapter.”

Each generation is responsible for understanding the reality of the world in which they live. Vincent and Louise not only grasped the meaning of their time but also helped the people of their generation to face with honesty and creativity the main challenges of 17th century France and in the Catholic Church.

Migration has been described in different documents of some of the branches of the Vincentian Family as one of the new faces of poverty, a priority emerging subject for our Charism due to its global impact on countries, communities, and families.   UN statistics speak of “hundreds of millions of people on the move. At times, tens-to-hundreds- of thousands find themselves directly exposed to open conflict or the effects of natural disasters in countries where they live and work… -these very vulnerable peoples- are forced to travel along dangerous migratory routes, across land and sea, usually with few resources.”

“Catholic theology has always promoted human rights rooted in natural law and God’s revelation”.   ‘Rerum Novarum’ was the first encyclical to approach the situation of migrants; in later documents, the Catholic Church has synthesized the theological and pastoral tradition to articulate three basic principles on migration.  These principles are an important piece of the Catholic Social Teaching:

  • People have the right to migrate to sustain their lives and the lives of their families.
  • A country has the right to regulate its borders and to control migration.
  • A country must regulate its borders with justice and mercy

The phenomenon of migration has many causes among which the most important ones are poverty (global economy), ecological devastation and violence –including drugs and human trafficking-. The greatest majority of immigrants are “economic refugees”, people escaping from violence, or from unsafe ecological conditions.  This is what is been called ‘forced migration’. Most migrants are poor persons in search for opportunities to live a dignify life.

Migration is related to two inseparable issues: dematerialization (impoverishment) and denationalization of poor individuals and communities. These two facts are among the main causes and effects of structural injustices in our society today.

Migration is a main factor to understand the transformation of our world.  This is also an essential dimension for us to assess, from a Vincentian Charismatic perspective, if we really want to grasp the meaning and challenges of our liminal (changing) times.

A comprehensive (before, during and after migration) approach to protecting and assisting mixed migrants (migrants, refugees, exiles) in life threatening situations is an extraordinary possibility for our Vincentian Charism nowadays.  We are a part of the international community in a global world; this means that we have a moral responsibility because in a global community, proximity is not any longer the only reason for a proactive response.

Where should we focus our energy, as a charismatic family, to seriously take this ‘global responsibility sharing’?  Send us your thoughts and opinions, so we can continue this conversation… Thanks!

Guillermo Campuzano, CM

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One Response to Vincentian perspectives on migration

  1. Albert November 3, 2015 at 7:46 pm #

    Part of the argument here seems to fall apart if land is considered property, specifically someone else’s property. Your perceived “right” to migrate is suddenly limited by someone else’s perceived right to ownership. Walking on your own land is risky enough but at least you know most of the risks if not all. Walking on someone else’s land multiplies the risk because you know you were not invited. Sts. Vincent and Louise recognized the reality of 17th Century France. They dealt with it as best they could. This is not the 17th Century. We know what governments are corrupt, inept or just too small to sustain themselves. We know it in part because people want to leave. That is understandable. Migration is a symptom of failed economies. It is time for the Church to re-focus on the cause of misery and fix the cause. If a government is the cause of social collapse and evacuation, correct the cause. Transferring the burden of failure to another nation is not a cure.