Portugal: Catholic institutions play a “fundamental” role in welcoming migrants and refugees – PAR Coordinator
André Costa Jorge praises the Pope’s leadership, marking the 107th World Day of Migrants and Refugees
Lisbon, September 26, 2021 (Ecclesia) – The coordinator of the Refugee Support Platform (PAR) told the ECCLESIA e Renascença Agency that Catholic institutions have been fundamental in welcoming them in Portugal.
“The work of associations in the field – whether parishes, congregations or other types of Church associations – has been fundamental for the numbers that we are proud to have in Portugal, at the level of the most welcoming countries in Europe and in the world. This owes a lot to the commitment in the field and the creation of an effective reception capacity”, pointed out André Costa Jorge, in the joint interview that is broadcast and published weekly on Sunday.
On the 107th World Day of Migrants and Refugees, which the Catholic Church celebrates today, the director of the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS)-Portugal criticizes the European migration policy, in particular the lack of solidarity between countries.
“The European Union has always been a bit in the wake of events, it has been more reactive than active”, points out the official, for whom the European Pact for Migration and Asylum has “many limitations”.
“We cannot be coming up with a migration policy based only on the idea of containment”, he adds.
André Costa Jorge highlights that, since it was created in 2015, the Refugee Support Platform has already welcomed 166 families, totaling around 800 people.
“We are at a stage in which we are making changes to the reception model, in conjunction with the responsible bodies who have responsibility”, he points out.
The PAR coordinator admits that people have a “very generic” idea of Europe when they arrive on the continent, considering it “important that the work that is done by the institutions, by those in the field, can somehow help people to shape according to your expectations and your life project”.
Integration is a very interesting and beautiful word, but it goes a long way. The data indicate, for example, that countries like Germany predict that people will only be integrated in the country after eight years”.
The director of JRS-Portugal identifies housing as one of the main objectives in the integration process, and calls for the mobilization of more institutions in the national welcoming effort.
“Housing is a transversal problem for the entire Portuguese society. For these people who have to start from zero, who have to pass several tests of resilience and resilience, housing is a great challenge”, he adds.
The interviewee praises the role of Pope Francis in defending migrants, with gestures and words that should sensitize those who have political responsibilities in this matter.
“We feel highly comforted knowing that the Pope is not only on our side, or on the side of those we defend, protect and accompany, but that he leads a mission with his word”, points out André Costa Jorge.
In his message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, Pope Francis warns of the risk of “aggressive” nationalism and more closed societies, not post-pandemic.
“We are all in the same boat and we are called to commit ourselves so that there are no more walls that separate us, nor are there any more, but only one of us, the size of the entire humanity”, she called.
André Costa Jorge highlights the importance of this message, which inspires the celebration of this journey in Catholic communities.
“Humanity’s goal, and the Church’s role, is to create an ever-growing ‘We’. Regardless of whether the other person has a different faith, or a different cultural background, the role of Christians is to participate in welcoming and hospitality and in the encounter between people”, he concludes.
Angela Roque (Renaissance) and Octávio Carmo (Ecclesia)