Migrants and Refugees

Religious Persecution’s Red Letter Day

Convivium December 2, 2020, Susan Korah

Wednesday November 18 is designated Red Wednesday, a public awareness campaign and call to action on behalf of persecuted Christians around the world. Initiated in 2016 by the UK chapter of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), a pontifical international Catholic charity, Red Wednesday is now observed in many countries including Canada.

But the Canadian government has yet to wake up to the global crisis, despite the efforts of organizations such as Aid to the Church in Need Canada, which coordinated the Canadian event.

Sister Micheline Lattouf of Lebanon, reports on statistics reflecting severe persecution in the Middle East:

260 million Christians are persecuted because of their faith, January 2019 (Open Doors)

  In Syria, Christians are currently fewer than 500,000, compared to 1.5 million in 2011 (ACN)

    In Iraq, the number of Christians is less than 150,000 compared to 1.5 million before 2003 (ACN)

Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Nigeria says: “The Boko Haram (extremist Islamist group) insurgents are still rampaging. Most of the kidnapped (Christian) girls have not been found and are still in captivity.”

“The selection process for immigration is broken and there is a gross under-representation of Christians who are accepted as refugees,” Deacon Rudy Ovcjak, Director of the Office of Refugees of the Archdiocese of Toronto (ORAT) told Convivium in an interview. “This is not an appeal to help Christians exclusively,” Ovcjak added. “This is to ensure justice and fairness and to maintain equilibrium between Christians and other groups.”

The comments by Ovcjak align with the principles of Red Wednesday as envisioned by its founders. Although it is a Catholic Church initiative, it does not focus entirely on persecuted Christians. Instead, it’s a call to action on behalf of all people persecuted for their faith and beliefs.

In sharp contrast to the Canadian government, the government of Hungary has demonstrated its support for persecuted Christians in a concerted manner. As a proof of this commitment, Hungary was the first European country to join the International Religious Freedom or Belief Alliance,” she said.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada needs to fine-tune its policies and processes to ensure that Christians, and others such as Yazidis in a particularly disadvantaged situation, get a fair chance at re-settlement, while continuing to accept refugees of all groups.

Please read the entire article here: Religious Persecution’s Red Letter Day

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Quebec Suspends Refugee Resettlement

On December 6 the Catholic Register published an article by Michael Swan reporting that the Quebec Government had suspended churches and faith communities for one year (until November 2021) from sponsoring refugees. The churches and faith communities want some explanation. Canadian Religious Conference Director Fr. Alain Ambeault finds the decision “Unacceptable”.

The Government mentioned serious concerns about the integrity of certain practices of legal persons within the framework. Alessandra Santopadre from the Diocese of Montreal wondered why the government has made such a blanket suspension. Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) Director Norbert Piche also wondered about the blanket cancellation and its fairness.

A letter from the Table de concertation des organismes au service des personnes refugiees et immigtrantes (TCRI) stated that the Quebec Immigration Department has introduced a spirit of suspicion in place of collaboration.

Please read the entire article here: Suspension

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Immigration levels – tough to meet

On November 7, 2020 Michael Swan from the Catholic Register published an article regarding the Government’s plan to take in a record 1.2 million immigrants between now and 2023. Churches and other organizations have expressed serious doubts about the effectiveness of this approach.

Deacon Rudy Ovcjak from the Archdiocese of Toronto Office for Refugees agrees with the closure of the border during COVID-19 but is also worried about the prospect of future backlogs gumming up the works of Canada’s refugee system.

The SAH Association says that if the government is serious about hitting its refugee targets, it’s going to have to lift the travel restrictions for more people who have already been approved for permanent residence in Canada.

“I know that is something Canadians take great pride in,” said Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino. In percentage terms, the new levels plan for refugees will hold steady at between 14.5 and 14.8 per cent of all new immigrants.

In announcing the new plan, Mendicino leaned heavily on the economic realities of immigration and Canada’s aging population. He pointed out that 25 per cent of health-care workers are immigrants. About 60 per cent of all new arrivals are economic class immigrants.

“In 1971 there were seven workers for every retiree. Now it’s three,” Mendicino said. “Put simply, we need more workers.”

Please read the entire article here: Immigration Levels

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Quebec suspends private refugee sponsorships by organizations for one year

On October 30, 2020, the CBC reported that the Quebec Government has suspended private refugee sponsorships from organizations for one year.

The report says, “Quebec is suspending all private refugee sponsorships by organizations because it says it has serious concerns with the integrity of the program.

The province said Wednesday that until November 2021, only groups of two to five people can privately sponsor a refugee.

All larger organizations including church groups and non-profits that have privately sponsored refugees for years are shut out of the program for the next 12 months.

You may read the entire news story at this link: Quebec Suspends Private Sponsorships

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WORLD DAY OF MIGRANTS & REFUGEES

The following are celebrations and remarks related to the World Day of Migrants & Refugees (WDMR) 2020. Pope Francis has declared that the theme for this year is “Forced like Jesus Christ to Flee“.

Toronto – Mass with Cardinal Collins of Toronto, Sept. 27, 2020: Mass

Homily – Cardinal Collins – WDMR Mass

Vancouver – Mass with Archbishop J. Michael Miller, Sept. 27, 2020: Mass

His Grace, Archbishop Bashar Warda C.SS.R. (Archbishop of Erbil, Iraq)

Archbishop Saldanha, retired Archbishop from Pakistan

Minister Marco Mendicino – Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

Raquel Dancho, Conservative Party of Canada