Vatican Urges Politicians to Defend Migrants, Not Stereotype Them

Vatican Urges Politicians to Defend Migrants, Not Stereotype ThemVatican Urges Politicians to Defend Migrants, Not Stereotype Them

Pope Francis launched a global Roman Catholic campaign on Wednesday to improve the lot of immigrants and one of his top cardinals urged politicians to “touch the hand of a migrant” before trying to stereotype them.

The two-year “Share the Journey” campaign comes at a time of growing anti-immigrant sentiment in the United States and many European countries where far-right parties have made inroads, Reuters reported.

On Sunday the far-right, anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (Afd) party surged to third place in a national election, tapping into public disquiet over the arrival of more than a million migrants in Germany over the past two years. The pope, who has made defense of migrants a major plank of his pontificate, launched the campaign in comments to tens of thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square for his weekly audience, urging Catholics around the world to be “open, inclusive and welcoming”.

Italy’s anti-immigrant Northern League has vowed to clamp down on migration from developing countries if it takes power in a coalition government after next year’s elections. At a news conference at the Vatican, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila called for a “culture of personal encounter” where friendship supplants fear.

“I would invite the leaders to meet a migrant, touch the hand of a migrant, smell a migrant, listen to their stories and you will see that they are like you and me,” he said.

“They are not really ‘other’. They could be me. They could be my brother, my sister, my parents,” said Tagle, whose grandfather left China for the Philippines as a poor boy.


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