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Share the journey with migrants, refugees

Published: October 3, 2017

"Christ himself asks us to welcome our brother and sister migrants and refugees with open arms, with arms wide open. ... ready to give a sincere, affectionate, enveloping embrace ..." — Pope Francis, General Audience, St. Peter Square, Rome, Sept. 27, 2017

Pope Francis recently launched the "Share the Journey" campaign to create a "culture of encounter" with migrants and refugees, "who now number some 65 million around the world, the biggest such crisis since World War II." This two-year campaign was created by Caritas International, a global network of Catholic charitable organizations that include Catholic Relief Services and Catholic Charities USA in the United States.

Organizers hope to create encounters "between people on the move and people living in the countries they are leaving, passing through or arriving in" where they share their stories and experiences and in the process dismantle myths about migrants and refugees, understand why people flee their homes and bring people together in one human family. To learn more, see Share the Journey Q&A.

According to Caritas International, "Pope Francis has made numerous appeals to promote the culture of encounter in an effort to combat the culture of indifference in the world today. It means seeing through the eyes of others rather than turning a blind eye. 'Not just to see but to look. Not just to hear but to listen. Not just to meet and pass by, but to stop. And don’t just say ‘what a shame, poor people,’ but allow ourselves to be moved by pity.'"

The Share the Journey website offers several suggestions to take part in the campaign in communities, parishes, schools and families in English and Spanish. These include prayers, activities, reflections, videos, Catholic teaching on migrants and refugees and more. A special week of prayer and action for migrants and refugees will be held Oct. 7-13. Special prayers at Masses, prayer vigils, simulation exercises, school announcements, lesson plans and speaking events are among the activities suggested for the week.

"This would be good time to draw people's attention to the plight of refugees and migrants, as well as our obligation to provide them welcome and assistance," wrote Bishop Anthony B. Taylor in an e-mail to clergy and staff referring to the week of prayer and action.

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said the purpose of the Share the Journey campaign is both "spiritual and practical." Pope Francis is "asking us to pray and reflect and to use the awareness we build to take action, both personally and publically. To our Church, this campaign is an embodiment of the biblical command to love our neighbor."