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Conference on xenophobia and populism: message from Christian Churches, “protecting Christian values by shutting out those who seek refuge is unacceptable”. “Racism is a sin”

foto SIR/Marco Calvarese

“To refuse to receive and help those in need is contrary to the example and calling of Jesus Christ. Claiming to protect Christian values or communities by shutting out those who seek safe refuge from violence and suffering is unacceptable, undermines Christian witness in the world, and raises up national boundaries as idols”. The final message issued yesterday evening at the end of the World Conference on “Xenophobia, Racism and Populist Nationalism in the Context of Global Migration”, which was held in Rome from 18 to 20 September, is a strong and unequivocal condemnation of all forms of populist nationalism. The Conference was, for the first time, jointly organised by the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development and by the World Council of Churches (WCC) in collaboration with the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. This morning, Pope Francis will receive the participants in audience. In the long message divided into 13 paragraphs, the leaders and representatives of the Churches call on “all those who support fundamental human rights to reject such populist initiatives incompatible with Gospel values. This should inspire political life and public discourse, and inform fundamental choices especially at the time of elections”. Very harsh words are used to condemn racism. “Race is a social construct which claims to explain and justify the separation between human groups by advancing physical, social, cultural and religious criteria”, and racism divides “groups of people based on the colour of their skin”, “in the name of a false notion of the purity and superiority of a specific community”. “In this sense – the Churches wrote – racism is a sin”, “radically incompatible with the Christian faith”. “People of faith must condemn racism because it denies human dignity and the mutual belonging to the one human family, and defaces the image of God in every human being”.

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