Published in early October, Pope Francis’s latest encyclical letter, Fratelli Tutti, is a long-anticipated papal assessment on the most pressing global trends today – and a call to action and “fraternal love” for Catholics and laypeople the world over.
Providing wide-ranging commentary on challenges ranging from a deteriorating climate and unfettered capitalism to the corrosive effects of “aggressive nationalism,” and rising inequality, the world’s most recognizable religious leader turned his pen to our shared mission at JRS/USA: serving and accompanying refugees, migrants, and internally displaced persons:
“No one will ever openly deny that they [refugees] are human beings,” writes Pope Francis, “yet in practice, by our decisions and the way we treat them, we can show that we consider them less worthy, less important, less human.”
“For Christians, this way of thinking and acting is unacceptable.”
How, then, can you work to better rise to the Christian way in service of refugees?
Here are three key takeaways from Fratelli Tutti on supporting migrants and ways to get involved:
- Move Beyond Initial Reactions
“I realize that some people are hesitant and fearful with regard to migrants. I consider this part of our natural instinct of self-defense. Yet it is also true that an individual and a people are only fruitful and productive if they are able to develop a creative openness to others. I ask everyone to move beyond those primal reactions.”
At JRS/USA, we support and actively organize Refugee Action Teams around the United States: groups of individuals dedicated to organizing their own community to support displaced people around the world through raising awareness and fundraising. Through these groups, and resources such as “We Don’t Walk Alone,” “Walk A Mile in My Shoes,” and the Dying to Live discussion guide, you can better understand the experience and story of a displaced person and move to support them.
- Journey Together
“Our response to the arrival of migrating persons can be summarized by four words: welcome, protect, promote and integrate. For it is not a case of implementing welfare programmes from the top down, but rather of undertaking a journey together, through these four actions, in order to build cities and countries that, while preserving their respective cultural and religious identity, are open to differences and know how to promote them in the spirit of human fraternity.”
JRS Founder, Father Pedro Arrupe, S.J., recognized the plight of displaced persons among the Vietnamese boat people in 1980 – and the distinct need to accompany and journey alongside them.
Today, in 56 countries worldwide, our work embodies a culture of welcome and protection across education and economic livelihoods, pastoral care and mental health & psychosocial support, and emergency assistance.
Your direct support to JRS/USA fuels our efforts to continue serving millions of refugees.
- Advocate on Behalf of Refugees at Home
“There is a need for mid-term and long-term planning which is not limited to emergency responses. Such planning should include effective assistance for integrating migrants in their receiving countries, while also promoting the development of their countries of origin through policies inspired by solidarity.”
As a pillar of the JRS/USA mission, we have stood steadfast to advocate and uphold the dignity of displaced persons on and within US borders, as well as abroad. On priority issues, including refugee protection, assistance programs, and education, we use our position to communicate with key policymakers and speak out on harmful policies and rhetoric.
Your voice is powerful, too! You can sign up for JRS/USA Action Alerts to keep up to date on the latest refugee and asylum policies in the United States. By showing solidarity through campaigns and events at home, you ensure crucial support to better lives abroad.
“This is the path,” Pope Francis says. “Goodness, together with love, justice and solidarity, are not achieved once and for all; they have to be realized each day.”
Consider becoming a JRS/USA Magis Partner to make every month count for refugees and displaced persons.