Seeing Beyond the Numbers of Migration

By Oliver Oliveros, editor-in-chief

It’s no wonder why one of the early favorite papabiles—possible candidates to be elected pope—at the papal conclave held last year was our very own Philippine cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle. Aligned with the current Pope of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis, Pope Saint John XXIII, and the Second Vatican Council’s emphatic outlook toward others, Cardinal Tagle believes in the “medicine of nursing and compassion.

“We hold on to a moral teaching, but we hold on to it with compassion,” he said to an intimate group of journalists, including yours truly, an hour before the cardinal accepted a degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from President Joseph McShane, S.J. and the Board of Trustees of Fordham University at its Rose Hill campus in the Bronx last month.

A member of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerants (PCPCMI), Cardinal Tagle urges people to see beyond the staggering statistics about compelled migration, i.e. necessity to migrate because of extreme poverty or war, whose forced migrants we often labeled as refugees. “As a basic human right, we enjoy the freedom to migrate but not to be forced to migrate,” he said. “Forced migration is a complex matter given the ethical, humanitarian, economic, and political issues involved. However, we have to always remember that in forced migration, the migrant becomes a victim—deprived and humiliated.”

According to Monsignor Agostino Marchetto, PCPCMI’s undersecretary, in 2011, there were 214 million international migrants—a mixed number of migrants by choice or by force, which mostly comes from Mexico, India, the Russian Federation, China, Bangladesh, Ukraine, Palestine, the United Kingdom, the Philippines, and Pakistan—which in turn also comprises three percent of the world’s population. “Each forced migrant has his or her story of pain, fear, or humiliation; [as compassionate Christians] we need to help transform every migrant’s story to that of hope and mission,” said Cardinal Tagle.

To the beloved cardinal, on behalf of the Filipino-American community in the New York Tri-State area, thank you very much for spending three full days with us starting from our pocket press conference to your conferral at Fordham University’s Keating First Auditorium; and from the special Holy Mass for the people of the Philippines at Fordham University Church to your Sunday Mass, concelebrated with Cardinal Timothy Dolan, at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral.

Personally, I would like to see you again in Manila, where your spiritual leadership among around 2.8 million Catholic Filipinos, is a shining example of consistent, genuine pastoral care.

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