As Venezuela refugee crisis builds, church struggles to carry out pope’s call

Religion News Service | 4/11/2019 | Staff
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SÃO PAULO (RNS) — Refugees fleeing Venezuela’s ongoing economic collapse are crossing the country’s borders to Colombia and Brazil, adding a new front in Latin America’s already critical migration situation, with thousands facing dangerous journeys to escape famine, poverty and political chaos.

Mormons, Baptists, Buddhists and other faith groups have stepped up their relief programs across Latin America, but for Catholic Church leaders, the flow of refugees has overwhelmed efforts to meet Pope Francis’ call to provide “hospitality and acceptance” for immigrants on his native continent.

Catholic - Congregations - Immigration - Scalabrini - International

Several Catholic congregations are devoted to immigration, such as the Scalabrini International Migration Network. “Other groups, among them the Jesuits, Franciscans, the Caritas organizations and some national conferences of bishops, are working hard on this issue,” said the Rev. Paolo Parise, leader of Missão Paz (Mission Our Lady of Peace), a welcome center in São Paulo for migrants and refugees.

“But, as a whole, the church still needs to wake up to this reality and follow the rhythm of the pope,” Parise said.

World - Youth - Day - January - Pope

On World Youth Day in January, Pope Francis pressed the bishops of Central America in Panama on the region’s most urgent social issues, including migration.

“‘Welcoming, protecting, promoting and integrating’ can be the four words with which the church, in this situation of mass migration, expresses her motherhood in the history of our time,” the pope said.

Years - Region - Waves - Mass - Migration

In the past few years, the region has seen waves of mass migration. In 2010 a major earthquake hit Haiti, bringing hundreds of thousands of desperate immigrants to South America, especially to Brazil. Now Venezuelans are fleeing President Nicolás Maduro’s unsteady regime, looking for both work and calm, as caravans of Central Americans head north to the United States.

Analysts estimate that 100,000 Venezuelans have taken up residence in Brazil, most of them since 2017, fleeing turmoil in their home country....
(Excerpt) Read more at: Religion News Service
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