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The Migrants that Seek a Welcome

Migrants on rescue ship Aquarius

By Fr. Shay Cullen

Let us look at ourselves as human beings with dignity, values, and inalienable human rights. We are persons not like the animals that see enemies and rivals all around them in the wild and they fight and kill for food and survival. Respectful cooperation and helping all live with equality and justice is essential for us to live in harmony and peace. The principle of loving and caring for others as we would care for ourselves is a survival strategy as well as one by which we can reach out to others in need, welcome them into our communities and build trust, harmony, give mutual support and bring peace and stability to our society.

The rescue ship Aquarius with 629 migrants, saved from a perilous journey, escaping hardship, hunger poverty and false unjust imprisonment in their own countries and then again in Libya, are following a hope and a dream of survival and a better life. The 629 unfortunate migrants have been turned away from Italy and Malta where the electorate has chosen leaders that are implementing an anti-migrant policy. Hungry, Romania and Poland are banning migrants in the name of keeping their "Christian culture pure and untainted." It is a big setback for human rights and the EU.

It is the people of Spain who have opened their doors and will give them a welcome, shelter, and support. Such hospitality is a powerful act of human goodness and encourages and enables strangers to feel welcomed and to hope and believe in the goodness of human nature and to be open to peaceful coexistence.

Compassion, openness to the stranger, empathy, friendship and hospitality for the migrant and refugee has never been more necessary that today. It is a truly tragic and horrific situation in the Middle East and Africa where thousands of non-combatants, mostly women and children have been bombed, burnt, mutilated, beheaded, raped, and murdered. Many hundreds of girls and women have been kidnapped and sold as sex slaves by the ferocious merciless fighters of the terror groups; they have massacred many innocent people. That and overwhelming poverty and corruption is driving the migrant poor to look for a better life. Risking all on a rubber dingy in the Mediterranean is an act of utter desperation, courage and bravery in the struggle to escape evil and live again. We should give them that chance. 

Columban Fr. Shay Cullen lives and works in the Philippines.

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