Father Gniadek SVD: Pope treats migration as a spiritual challenge

We welcomed refugees into Polish homes and church communities, offering them housing, work and school. With them, we are trying to build a new world, a new future, the New Jerusalem evoked by Pope Francis. The Holy Father views migration in a religious and spiritual way, and not only in a political or social way – explains Fr. Jacek Gniadek SVD. The Polish Episcopal Council’s consultant for migration, tourism and pilgrimages discussed the papal message for the 108th World Day for Migrants and Refugees today at the Secretariat of the Polish Episcopate. It is celebrated on the fourth Sunday of September (this year September 25).

Pope Francis recalls in the message that the ultimate meaning of the human “journey” in the world is the search for the true homeland, the kingdom of God inaugurated by Jesus Christ, which will find its full realization when he returns in glory. Despite the various difficulties, we are called to renew our commitment to building a future more in keeping with God’s plan; a world where everyone can live in peace and dignity. It is about fulfilling God’s order, which requires acceptance of the Gospel of Christ’s love so that inequalities and discrimination in today’s world are eliminated. No one can be excluded, especially migrants and refugees, displaced persons and victims of human trafficking.

Francis emphasizes that building a future with migrants and refugees also means recognizing and appreciating what each of them can bring to the construction process. Recalls that the contribution of migrants and refugees has been fundamental to the social and economic development of our societies. And it is still the case today.

“However, this contribution could be much greater if it were valued and supported by targeted programs. It is a huge potential, ready to express itself if only given the chance”, writes the Pope.

She adds that the presence of migrants and refugees is a great challenge, but also an opportunity for everyone’s cultural and spiritual development. Thanks to them, we have the opportunity to better know the world and the beauty of its diversity.

The slogan for the 108th World Day for Migrants and Refugees is the words “Building a Future with Migrants and Refugees”.

– Building together means recognizing and promoting the role that migrants and refugees must play in creating the future, because only in this way can we build a world that will ensure the integral development of all peoples – declares Father Jacek Gniadek SVD, consultant of the KEP Council for Migration, Tourism and Pilgrimages.

The verbalist points out that Pope Francis considers migration from a religious and theological point of view. – The homeland of the disciple of Christ is in Heaven, so from this point of view, each of His disciples on earth is only a pilgrim, we can say: a migrant. Migrants are seen by the Church as people on the way – adds Father Gniadek SVD.

After the Second Vatican Council, the brother reminds us that the reasons that push a person to change the place of life can be different. The Church, recognizing the human right to migrate, does not fundamentally distinguish between economic migrants and refugees. Catholic social teaching uses the term “refugee” in a broader sense than international law, which also applies it to victims of wrongful economic decisions and internally displaced persons.

– All migrants are seen by the Church as people on their way to a specific goal. We see the migratory movements in the world as a challenge from a spiritual point of view, not only from a political or social point of view – adds Father Gniadek.

Although the subject of the message was prepared and announced on February 22, two days before the start of the Russian aggression against Ukraine, its content “will be read in a special way in the light of what is happening in Poland and because of the war in Ukraine,” Fr. Jacek Gniadek SVD.

In his opinion, although the message’s message is universal, we can clearly interpret its content in the context of events in Ukraine. When the Pope speaks in the message of a meticulous work on personal conversion and the transformation of reality so that it corresponds more and more to God’s plan; about the still distant New Jerusalem – “the tabernacle of God with men” (Rev 21:3), it recalls the fact that there are no refugee camps in Poland, and most of between them were lodged in Polish houses. – We welcomed them into our homes, into our own ecclesial communities, offering them housing, work and a school for the children, with them we are trying to build a new world, a new future – adds the verbalist.

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