Retrospective look, challenges for the future: Migrants, "the paradigm of our time" (3/11)

At the Synod on "Youth, faith and vocational discernment" the constant territorial mobility of people around the world, especially among young people, was addressed. For this reason, when it comes to accompanying this reality, the Synod perceived the challenge that is for Christian communities to welcome, protect, promote and integrate young people in migratory situations, especially the most vulnerable.
Pastoral | 2019 Mar 28 | Fabián Martín Gómez,  Queretaro

In recent years there has been a very broad production in the world cinema on the migration issue. I would like to refer, in particular, to a film because it is the context from which these lines are written: "La jaula de oro" (2013). It's a Mexican movie, directed by  Diego Quemada-Díez, which recounts the violence and racism that are lived, explicitly, by a group of young migrants from Guatemalaand of a young native of the "Tzotzil" ethnic group , based in the State of   Chiapas, Mexico, on its journey to theUnitedStatesof America.

The goldencagehighlights discrimination against Latin American indigenous groups, even among the migrants themselves. The work of the Catholic priest is shown in the film José AlejandroSolalindeGuerra, who has already received death threats for defending and assisting migrants; the father appears in the film production in front of the home called "Hermanos en el Camino". The film was shot in Guatemala, the United States and in several Mexican states such as Chiapas, Oaxaca, Veracruz, Morelos, State of Mexico, Jalisco, Michoacán, Sonora and Baja California.

In this Mexican film some of the aspects that are mentioned in the Synod on "forced migration" among young people are discussed: that it is a global phenomenon with many faces and quite complex, where vulnerability, violence, the tearing apart of the contexts of origin and, at the same time, the occasion of many stories of encounter, friendship and solidarity; The prophetic presence of the Church, which assumes a significant commitment to migration, is also confirmed. It is worth mentioning that in the conclusions of the Synod, the Church assumes an even greater option for the accompaniment of these difficult realities.

Certainly in this film - La jaula de oro- it is not possible to reflect the most recent novelty about the Latin American migratory phenomenon. In 2018 we witnessed the displacement of a mass of people from the countries of Central America, which originated a new way of carrying out migration because it is massive, organized and conducted. A migration that, of course, revealed a series of circumstances - extreme poverty and violence - that make it really a forced migration. And, unfortunately, migration that was also an easy target of petty interests that expose many people to serious dangers.

The Synod on young people stated in the  ConclusiveDocument( CD) of the Assembly that "many of the migrants have a young face, looking for a greater good for their families, and do not fear to risk and leave everything in order to offer the minimum of conditions that guarantee a better future".The Church , through its bishops, assumed the commitment to become significantly present in the complexity of the global migratory phenomenon, mainly to be guarantor of the rights of the weakest, children, adolescents, young people and women. And, above all, it expressed "the concern of theChurch in particular for those fleeing from war, violence, political or religious persecution, natural disasters, etc."

How could it be otherwise, it strongly condemned in its reflection the abuse of power by unscrupulous traffickers, often linked to drug cartels and weapons, which exploit the weakness of migrants. They are often the cause of violence, the trafficking of people with a profit motive, psychological and even physical abuse, which cause untold suffering to migrants. And it also shakes the conscience of Christians living in the countries of arrival, reminding them that "we are all strangers and pilgrims on earth" (Heb 11,13). Therefore, they are invited to put aside their fears and anxieties, often fomented and exploited for political purposes, and to change among all a xenophobic mentality that does not help at all.

The CDof the Synod also indicates how the Church, through its pastors and the commitment of the entire Christian community, has to consider the important role it plays as a place of reference for young people from broken families, either because one of the parents emigrate, or both. And not only that, but also invites Christian communities to be creative in welcoming migrants, be guarantors of their fundamental rights, encourage them to contribute their human, cultural and religious wealth, and thus be able to integrate as agents that revitalize the same Christian community.

Finally, the CDaffirmsthat the fact that the Church is present both in the places of departure and arrival of migrants, it gives the enormous capacity and opportunity of   being a sign for the worldof a serious commitment to migrants, whether migration occurs within the same country or involves crossing borders. There is no doubt, as stated in the CD, for the Church it is a privilegedopportunityto exercise its maternaldimensionin today's history.

Fabián Martín Gómez,  Augustinian Recollect

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