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Father Shay Cullen is an Irish Columban missionary who has worked in the Philippines since 1969. In 1974, he founded the Preda Foundation, a charitable organization dedicated to protecting the rights of women and children and campaigning for freedom from sex slavery and human trafficking.

Hypocrisy of defending Christian values

Hypocrisy of defending Christian values

A 3.5 meter-tall puppet represents Amal, a young Syrian refugee. The puppet arrived in Milan, Italy on September 18, 2021. It was created by the Handspring Puppet Company, leads the 8,000 km itinerary festival named The Walk, started from Gaziantep, Turkey, and is expected to arrive in Manchester, UK, after traveling across Greece, Italy, France, Switzerland, Germany and Belgium to focus public attention on young refugees. (Piero Cruciatti / Anadolu Agency via AFP)

Published: September 18, 2021 04:34 AM GMT
Refugees are escaping impossible living conditions, but most non-welcoming states are those with Christian tradition

When Pope Francis made a visit to so-called Catholic Hungary recently, it was short. He was made to feel unwelcome because he stands for the rights and dignity of every migrant and refugee that seeks acceptance, understanding, shelter, care and help. But Prime Minister Viktor Orban and the Hungarian officials tell Pope Francis they consider refugees and migrants fleeing persecution and hunger as a Mongol invasion. They gave Francis a copy of a 13th-century letter from Hungarian King Bela IV to Pope Innocent IV. The letter asked the then-pope for help in resisting the Mongol invasion of Hungary and Europe. Orban considers himself the defender of Christian values in Hungary and Europe.

This is monumental hypocrisy. Besides, Orban is an autocratic right-wing ruler that has curbed free expression and the media. According to a CNN report: “Balazs Orban, Deputy Minister for the Prime Minister's Office, described the gift on his Facebook page, saying, "there are many similarities between the situation at that time and today. . . we should learn from history.” Pope Francis said, "My wish is that you be. . . grounded and open, rooted and considerate" for refugees.

The government of Catholic Poland is not very welcoming either especially since asylum-seekers coming from Belarus are being turned back. According to data made public by the Polish Interior Ministry, between August 1 and 18, this year some 2,100 migrants tried to enter Poland via Belarus, out of whom 1,342 were “prevented from entering.”

Among the most non-welcoming countries are those with Orthodox Christian traditions: North Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Catholic Hungary. They have closed their borders and slammed shut the door in the faces of thousands of desperate, homeless migrants and refugees.

The refugees endure hardships and flee poverty, war, violence, hunger and want, just like the parents of Jesus of Nazareth did during their flight into Egypt pursued by the killers sent by King Herod. The heart of the message of Jesus of Nazareth is to welcome the stranger, to consider all people of equal value, with equal rights and Children of God and to help and assist them like the Good Samaritan helped the dying man on the side of the road. In that story, the priest and politician walked past, ignoring the plight of the man that was set upon by gangs and left to die. The story tells who indeed the true neighbour is. It is the person who helps the needy and shows love as did the Good Samaritan. The Samaritan himself was an outcast in the Jewish state at that time.

Today, the Palestinians are excluded, occupied and oppressed by Israel to their eternal shame by ignoring their rights to freedom and justice in Palestine today. Thousands of Palestinians have fled abroad as migrants and refugees. Thousands of people in the world from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq are seeking asylum in Europe and refugees from South American countries are seeking asylum in the United States.

The colonial conquest of nations has caused centuries of global injustice, exploitation of natural resources, oppression of the poor and gross inequality and poverty in South America, Africa and Asia. Western nations were the colonialists and grew rich because they engaged in exploitation backed up by force and war. It continues today by proxy and now the refugees and migrants are escaping impossible living conditions caused by powerful nations like Russia in Syria and tyrants in South America in cahoots with Western multinational corporations.

Among the most welcoming countries for migrants and refugees are Canada, Iceland, New Zealand, Australia and Sierra Leone, according to the Gallup Index. The United States of America was listed as the sixth most-accepting country for migrants, followed by Burkina Faso, Sweden, Chad, Irelandand Rwanda.

Recently, Ireland as an example is noted as being accepting and tolerant of migrants and refugees. It has undergone a massive change in the past twenty years from Catholic to secular. It is becoming a more multicultural country with migrants and refugees adding to the mix of the population. However, change and acceptance is coming slowly. There is some negative attitudes towards migrants still around.

“The Irish Network Against Racism (INAR) has launched the 2020 findings from iReport.ie - the racist incident reporting system. It found that the total number of incidents has increased and there has been a record number of hate speech incidents,” said a report in the Irish Examiner of 23 March 2021.

There were 700 racist incidents in 2020, compared to 530 in 2019. It also reported 334 cases of racist hate speech, 159 criminal incidents, 51 racist assaults and 594 hate speech incidents, all hitting new record high. “It’s been a bad year for everyone and racism and hate crime have made it an even worse one for all minorities.” Most of this has been apparently directed against people of African descent.

Despite this, there is a high level of tolerance to people of different religions in Ireland. In 2011, a census found that there were 12,791 Filipinos living in Ireland. This has greatly increased by 2021. They are hired workers for the health sector and the country is dependent on them for nursing service and they are warmly accepted.

Black Irish people are sometimes discriminated against but more accepted these days. Last year, Pamela Uba, a 26-year old has been crowned Miss Ireland 2021, becoming the first black woman in history to win the title. The competition has been running since 1947. It's "crazy to imagine that 74 years went by before anyone different won this," she said according to a BBC report.  "I'm the first and it feels amazing - people are looking up to me and I never thought I'd be in that position."

Pamela moved to the Republic of Ireland from South Africa aged seven, with her mum and three siblings.”

So the times are changing indeed, and may they continue to do so.


UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia