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Archbishop calls for open conversation on migration

The Catholic Primate of All Ireland has stressed the need for “an honest and open conversation” about migration.

In his St Patrick’s Day message Archbishop Eamon Martin said “legitimate anxieties” needed to be recognised for such a discussion to take place.

The Archbishop of Armagh said Saint Patrick might well be considered a patron saint of migrants.

“He certainly understands the predicament of the trafficked unaccompanied minor; the exploited labourer; the escaping refugee; the immigrant, the emigrant; the expat; the student or missionary abroad!”

“Saint Patrick wrote about enduring many hardships, hatred and insults in Ireland for being a foreigner”, he said.

The Archbishop used his feast day message to think of Irish emigrants “who sometimes struggled to gain acceptance in foreign lands”, and he called on people to “turn our hearts to the many newcomers who have arrived among us.”

He said it was worth asking this Saint Patrick’s Day how Ireland lives up to its reputation as a land of welcomes with charitable citizens who are prepared to offer sanctuary to those who arrive in need.

He noted that Pope Francis had often spoken about migrants and refugees in terms of ‘welcoming’, ‘protecting’, ‘promoting’ and ‘integrating’ them.

Archbishop Martin said Ireland – north and south – needed an honest and open conversation about migration, “both outward and inward”.

“How can we truly become an island of belonging and hope where our own young people, health workers and teachers want to stay, and where others want to come and live among us?”, he said.

Archbishop Martin said such an important discussion would only “move away from the extremes” when legitimate anxieties are recognised and there’s a resolve to tackle the immense challenges of providing affordable homes and services for all at national and community level.

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