'Multicultural' Refugee Sunday message goes against the tide

Ahead of this weekend's Refugee and Migrant Sunday, Bishop Joseph Grech has presented a message originally written by Pope John Paul II, that counters growing calls within the community to return to a policy of assimilating migrants into the dominant culture.

Pope John Paul had said in his message, prepared earlier this year for this coming Sunday, that migration makes societies "a reflection of the multi-faceted gifts of God to human beings".

"In this process the migrant is intent on taking the necessary steps towards social inclusion, such as learning the national language and complying with the laws and requirements at work, so as to avoid the occurrence of exasperated differentiation," he said.

The threat of terrorism from within migrant groups that led to last month's London bombing has led to renewed calls to require migrants to forsake their cultural identity and assimilate into the dominant culture.

Bishop Grech, of Sandhurst Diocese in Victoria, is Chairman of the Committee for Migrants and Refugees of the Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference. He extracted the paragraph on multiculturalism from longer message written by Pope John Paul II.

In the same document - available on the website of the Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office, he endorses November's conference "One in Christ Jesus: Pastoral Care in a culturally diverse Australia", to be held in Sydney under the auspices of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference.

Bishop Grech's letter is part of a kit for Refugee and Migrant Sunday which is available on the Commission's website (see link below). The kit includes the full text of Pope John Paul II's message, as well as a poster for display in churches and schools, and liturgy notes.

Refugee & Migrant Sunday 2005 (Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Australian Catholic Migrant & Refugee Office | Refugee & Migrant Sunday 2005
Refugee and Migrant Sunday (National Council of Churches in Australia)
Centre for Multicultural Pastoral Care, Archdiocese of Brisbane

Church bodies give details of refugee initiative (CathNews 23/8/02)

Jose Zepeda: Migration, terrorism and multiculturalism
Brenda Hubber: Refugee and Migrant Sunday (Kairos Catholic Journal 21/8/05)

25 Aug 2005