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Day of Migrants and Refugees: mgr. Pontier (French Bishops), “faith makes one experience acceptance”

“Only the future will tell us whether it is an one-off situation to be handled or a deep, epoch-making change that will transform the life of our country. In any case, our faith in human fraternity makes us experience acceptance”. This is how mgr. Georges Pontier, archbishop of Marseille and president of the French Bishops Conference, speaking to the press in the run-up to the World Day of Migrants of January 14th, yesterday in Paris gave a foretaste of some ideas put forward by the French Church to respond to the arrival of migrants. “France cannot take in all the misery of the world”, it is often said, but, Pontier emphasised, “it is not what it is doing and it is not what is asked of it”. As it is in the list of the world’s wealthiest countries, “couldn’t it maybe take in more people and, above all, couldn’t it do it better?”; the French bishops disagree with the intentions of those who want to “push back all those who are not eligible for asylum status”. All the more so, because “in the Bible strangers are often those who make us check if we have really been converted to human fraternity”. The French Church can testify to “the great generosity of its members and of many fellow citizens: a lot of fine experiences of acceptance and efforts”. “We believe”, mgr. Pontier went on, “that, if the State and civilian communities organised a veritable dialogue with the associations that work in this area, then real progress could be made on the place. The latter’s efforts and generosity would espouse the State’s authority and means”.

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