Vatican cardinal urges Europeans to remember own migratory roots ahead of European elections

ROME (AP) — A top Vatican cardinal urged European voters Monday to remember their own migratory roots and show sympathy to people forced to flee their homes, days ahead of an election for the European Parliament in which migration is a big issue.

Cardinal Michael Czerny, Pope Francis’ point person on migration was speaking at the launch of the pope’s annual message for migrants, the theme of which this year recalls God’s presence in every Christian’s faith journey, and God’s accompaniment of people on the move.

Asked if he had a message to European voters, Czerny recalled the theme of the pope’s message and said that a lot of talk about migration today is fueled by fear, ideology and propaganda about a “global crisis” that he says doesn’t exist.

“It would also be useful for Europeans to recognize their own migratory roots,” he added. “We know from science that the human race wasn’t born here, and many Europeans hail from people on the move.

“It’s truly a shame that after two or three generations families forget their migratory roots and those who helped them,” he said. “Now it’s our opportunity to help.”

Francis has made reaching out to migrants a priority of his pontificate and has called for receiving countries, within their means, to welcome, protect, promote and integrate migrants. But many politicians have capitalized on Europeans’ fear of migrants, including in Italy, where migration regularly features prominently in election campaigns.

Czerny also recalled the biblical exodus of Jews and the figure of the Good Samaritan in urging Europeans to show Christian charity toward migrants.

“With the same or similar conditions and pressures, suffering and losses, each one of us would have left home much sooner,” he said.

As Czerny was speaking officials confirmed that Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni would travel to Albania this week, ahead of the weekend vote, to check in on migrant detention centers that Italy is building in Albania.

Meloni has defended the controversial deal to outsource the migrants to Albania while Italy processes their asylum claims as part of her strategy to deter people from making the risky Mediterranean crossing.