The Fuller Picture: Contemporary Mexican Photography

A new exhibit which chronicles the Mexican experience opens at the Bronx Documentary Center on November 15. Photographers Fernando Brito, Alejandro Cartagena, Mauricio Palos and Ruth Prieto Arenas cover a vast range of subjects, from family life in the U.S. to border scenes to the harsh reality of narco-crime and murder in Sinaloa. What all the work shares is the common thread of migration, and its deep effects on individuals, families and communities.

Here is the New Yorker article: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/15/us/obama-immigration-policy-changes.html?emc=edit_th_20141115&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=68564230&_r=0

For more information about the Bronx Documentary Center, please see: http://bronxdoc.org/

For more information about the photographers represented in the Bronx Documentary Center’s Exhibit, please see:

Alejandro Cartagena: http://alejandrocartagena.com/

Mauricio Palos: http://mauriciopalos.tumblr.com/

Ruth Prieto Arenas: http://www.ruthprietoarenas.com/home

And here are monographs from these photographers available on Amazon.com:

Alejandro Cartagena: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=a9_sc_1?rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Aalejandro+cartagena&keywords=alejandro+cartagena&ie=UTF8&qid=1416067918

Mauricio Palos: http://www.amazon.com/Mauricio-Palos-My-Perro-Rano/dp/8492480947/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1416068103&sr=8-1&keywords=mauricio+palos&pebp=1416068113147

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A Pilgrim’s Progress: The Legacy of Thanksgiving

By: Roxane Ramos

The pilgrims and Native Americans who celebrated the first Thanksgiving have a lot in common with the migrants of today.

There are many misconceptions about the origins of the U.S. celebration of Thanksgiving. For one thing, the now-legendary feast on Plymouth Plantation in 1621 was not a celebration of thanksgiving, but an acknowledgement of a successful harvest. Nor was it a “first”—it was common to set aside a time of thanks well before this Plymouth event, though fasting more than feasting was the order of the day. There were no shoe buckles, no table or utensils, and no turkey. And the notion that the settlers extended a formal invitation to the Wampanoag residing nearby (who were more likely attracted by the revelry and inspired to contribute 5 deer to the party) is pure invention.

The Myth: Paintings such as The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth (1914), by Jennie A. Brownscombe, enshrine a picture of the “first” Thanksgiving that is more sentimental than factual. Public domain image.

The Myth: Paintings such as The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth (1914), by Jennie A. Brownscombe, enshrine a picture of the “first” Thanksgiving that is more sentimental than factual.
Public domain image.

What we do know with certainty is that before those European settlers survived the winter of 1620 and the following planting season (only 50 remained of the original 100), they survived a two-month cross-Atlantic voyage. They were, indeed, pilgrims, travelers who had journeyed a long distance, in this case, to escape persecution and pursue a better life. During this time of giving thanks and sharing abundance, the similarities between those early immigrants and today’s migrants are worth reflecting on.

Like their predecessors, modern-day migrants undertake arduous and lengthy journeys, over land and sea, and are often subject to grave dangers along the way. They are motivated by the same urges to improve one’s quality of life, find gainful livelihood, and flee oppression and violence. And upon arriving at their destination, they are pitted against further challenges that may prove insurmountable, including making a home with their families in unfamiliar, perhaps unfriendly surroundings, and suffering the pain of exile. Today, deportation is also a frequent outcome, and despite all the risks, efforts and expenditures, they may be forced to start again. In most instances, the entire endeavor is a test of survival, and a gamble on “making it” in a “new world.”

Rather than considering the migration of these contemporary pilgrims as a new phenomenon, it’s important to remember that it is simply a continuation of an ages-old human impulse to move—from farm to city, from country to country, from continent to continent—and evidence of a very understandable yearning within us for security, safety and well-being, wherever that can be found. So people migrate as they have done for millennia. The movements of those who were brave, steadfast or desperate enough to take to the road, with all its hopes and risks, have shaped all of human history and culture. It is how, in this country that has memorialized the Plymouth pilgrims’ sacrifices and perseverance in a much-treasured national holiday, the U.S. became the U.S.

The Real Deal: Migrants gather at the KBI comedor to share a meal in a spirit of gratitude for the gifts of safety, nourishment and companionship. Photo by Roxane Ramos.

The Real Deal: Migrants gather at the KBI comedor to share a meal in a spirit of gratitude for the gifts of safety, nourishment and companionship.
Photo by Roxane Ramos.

The other participants in that seminal celebration—the Native Americans who taught the settlers how to fish and farm—were pilgrims, too, but their migrations, often to lands far from their original homes, were not voluntary. The forced relocation of native populations is part of any full history of migration in North America, and it touches on another element of the migrant experience, namely, displacement. To leave is one part of migration, to journey another, but to at last settle into a new life in a new land, in any number of circumstances, involves a bittersweet goodbye to one’s former home, and sometimes an extended or permanent separation from loved ones. While other aspects of migration are daunting, the separation of families is heart-breaking, and finding a way to keep families together fuels a big part of the current immigration debate in the U.S. Can we institute a humane and compassionate immigration policy that unites migrants with their children, parents and spouses, rather than coldly discounting those ties?

The connections we have with family, community and the wider world are at the heart of the upcoming holiday—though today, the “wider world” is, in fact, the planet—and find their origins in that 500-year-old harvest festival. The Native Americans shared their knowledge of their land, the pilgrims shared the fruits of their labor, and a satisfying, if short-lived, exchange of resources was forged. Today, we honor interdependence and express our gratitude for what we have by traveling to be with family, volunteering to help others who are not as fortunate, and gathering to share a plentiful Thanksgiving meal.

When Pope Francis recently wrote that the “Church is a pilgrim in the world,” he reminded Catholics and others around the world of the centrality of the journey. The supporters, staff, volunteers and board members of the Kino Border Initiative strive to live up to this ideal. We are all pilgrims, implicated in each other’s journeys and called to make a migration that is at once personal and collective, literal and metaphoric. We are invited to participate in that grand tradition of movement—on a road, in our hearts, perhaps outside our comfort zones—and to gather around a table that seats all of us.

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Giving Thanks

Kino Border Initiative staff, board members, and volunteers as well as the migrants they serve weigh in about what they are thankful for during this season of gratitude.

The migrants gather with KBI staff and volunteers before the morning meal. Photo by Andrea Cauthen.

The migrants gather with KBI staff and volunteers before the morning meal.
Photo by Andrea Cauthen.

“I am grateful for the generous way that the migrants I encounter every day in the comedor share with me their hopes, their smiles, and their struggles. That people who have suffered so much are still so willing to give of themselves to help at the comedor, and to share who they are with me constantly amazes me and is a constant source of grace for me.”

“I had forgotten God. But now, being here, I feel God more present because of the support, food, shelter I receive.”

“La labor de la Iniciativa Kino para la Frontera es de suma importancia y por la cual estoy muy agradecido a nombre de cientos y miles de immigrantes de mi país que han sido ayudados y amparados por toda la gente de la KBI que ya por años han brindado apoyo al migrante. ¡GRACIAS!” (“The work of the Kino Border Initiative is of paramount importance, and I’m grateful on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of immigrants from my country who the KBI has helped and for so many years. THANK YOU!)

“Recently, I ran into a young man in a Cancun hotel who recognized me right off, and asked if I was still working in Nogales. He told me that the CAMDEP (the comedor) was a big lift when he was down. Throughout the weekend, every time I saw him, he expressed thanks for all we do there. Such a coincidence to encounter each other after 2 years!”

“I am grateful for our hard-working KBI Board of Directors whose goal is to make a permanent facility serving migrants a reality.”

“No sé lo que sería de nosotros sin estas ayudas que nos ofrecen. Nunca imaginé que pudiera haberlo.” (“I do not know what would become of us without such aid they offer. I never imagined that one could have this.”)

Breakfast is served every morning of the year at the KBI comedor. Photo by Andrea Cauthen.

Breakfast is served every morning of the year at the KBI comedor.
Photo by Andrea Cauthen.

“Hearing the stories of the migrants is a constant reminder of how fragile life can be, and how important it is to help each other in times of crisis. I’m grateful for these lessons, and also to be able to live and work near my family in relative safety. It is so easy to forget what a gift that is.”

“I am grateful for the kindness of many who give their time, talents and money to causes they believe in.”

“Kino es lo mejor que hemos encontrado en todo nuestro caminar. Es increíble! Nunca imaginé que pudiera haber algo así.” (“Kino is the best I have encountered throughout our journey. It’s incredible! I never imagined that there could be something like this.”)

“I am grateful and humbled to work with such caring people who have devoted their life’s work to serving others. It is a blessing to be able to play a small part in this important work.”

“Thanks for all you are doing for me. I now believe in the presence of God in my life.”

“I am grateful for the dedicated service offered year-round to migrants by our remarkable staff at KBI.”

“Washing dishes with a migrant woman recently, I thanked her for her help. She in turn said, ‘No, I want to thank all of you: it helps me to help here [with the clean-up]—it makes me feel a little less uncomfortable.’”

“I never imagined this was here. I give great thanks for all these services.”

 

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Father Sean’s 25th Anniversary

By: Roxane Ramos

Father Sean prays with the migrants at the comedor.

Father Sean prays with the migrants at the comedor.

Fr. Sean Carroll, executive director of the Kino Border Initiative, entered the order of the Society of Jesus on August 27, 1989, and celebrated his twenty-fifth anniversary as a Jesuit this past August. All who have the privilege of knowing Fr. Sean are grateful for his vocation and, of course, his presence at KBI. The KBI Board of Directors presented Fr. Sean with a 2009 bottle of wine from the Kino Winery in recognition of this important milestone.

Father Sean with KBI board members, Fund Development Committee Chair Lucy Howell (left) and Board President Jane Lacovara.

Father Sean with KBI board members, Fund Development Committee Chair Lucy Howell (left) and Board President Jane Lacovara.

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Up Close: The People of the KBI

Tricia Lothschutz, KBI Immersion Participant

Tricia Lothschutz visited the KBI for an immersion trip in October 2013.

Tricia Lothschutz visited the KBI for an immersion trip in October 2013.

By: Roxane Ramos

As the outreach/volunteer coordinator for the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Chicago, Tricia Lothschutz facilitated an immersion trip to the Kino Border Initiative in October 2013. Tricia frequently contributes to YOUCATholic.com and other social justice and faith-inspired sites, and reflects here on her experience at the border and what it means to be a pilgrim.

To journey without being changed is to be a nomad. To change without journeying is to be a chameleon. To journey and to be transformed by the journey is to be a pilgrim.

~Mark Nepo, from The Book of Awakening

Tricia’s walking shoes and those left behind on the camino by a migrant. Photos by Tricia Lothschutz.

Tricia’s walking shoes and those left behind on the camino by a migrant.
Photos by Tricia Lothschutz.

According to Mark Nepo’s definition, I am a pilgrim. I have journeyed and been transformed. There are quite a few journeys in my life that fit this description, one of which was my participation last fall in a Kino Border Initiative immersion experience.

It is said that in order to really understand someone, you need to “walk a mile in their shoes.” After spending a week at the Arizona-Mexico border, participating in the Kino Immersion, my eyes were opened to the devastating reality of the “shoes” in which the migrant and deportee walk.

KBI visitors walk the path of the migrants. Photo by Tricia Lothschutz.

KBI visitors walk the path of the migrants.
Photo by Tricia Lothschutz.

Prior to this experience, I was aware of the border issues, but on this journey I came face-to-face with the injustice of the border crisis, the indignity, pain, and sorrow experienced. All that I saw and learned, and all of the beautiful people I met that week, have remained with me. It is no longer just about the facts and figures of a political talking point, but about the lives and stories of individuals struggling to survive.

With all of this talk about journeying and shoes, I cannot help but think back to our walk in the desert that marked the start of our immersion experience. A walk in the footsteps of the migrants who cross the border into the United States, facing the harsh conditions of the desert—hot days, cold nights, little food or water—and who face the risk of being caught, detained and deported by the U.S. Border Patrol, all for the chance at a better life for their families.

Immersion participants encounter the U.S. Border Patrol. Photo by Tricia Lothschutz.

Immersion participants encounter the U.S. Border Patrol.
Photo by Tricia Lothschutz.

On our desert walk, we were led down an embankment and under the overpass, a place where migrants frequently hide until nightfall, trying to get to safety. There we saw items left behind by migrants: a pair of shoes, bags, pants, water bottles, all evidence of the lives that had passed through this spot. I tried to imagine the fear and pain of those who had passed through here before us, and the desperate circumstances that must have led them to this moment.

After our time in the desert, we made our way back up to our vehicles. As we climbed the embankment, we quickly became aware of the presence of two Border Patrol vehicles, waiting for us. They had received a call about a group traveling in the desert. Upon seeing that we were not at all a group of undocumented migrants, they moved along. This encounter, however, left a deep impression—it was truly an immersion into the reality of the migrants’ experience. After going through so much to get across the border and through the desert, just like that, it would have all been over. We, however, were able to get in our own vehicles and drive away.

This experience came full circle when we went back to our guides’ home for further discussion and prayer. So as not to track the desert dust into her home, she asked us to remove our shoes before entering. When we left, I was the last one out of the house, and so my shoes sat all alone, waiting to be claimed. Before putting my shoes back on, I remembered the shoes left behind in the desert. I took a moment to pray for the owner of those shoes, wherever he/she might be now, and I also said a prayer of thanks for my blessings, grateful that I was not in a situation where I had to leave my shoes behind.

Tricia (fourth from left), with the other immersion participants from throughout the U.S., October, 2013. Photos by West Cosgrove.

Tricia (fourth from left), with the other immersion participants from throughout the U.S., October, 2013.
Photos by West Cosgrove.

This immersion experience certainly challenged me to walk differently. It was a reminder of our call to use the “shoes” we have been given to bring about good; to embrace the ones forgotten; to be a voice for the voiceless; to welcome the stranger; to liberate, educate, love, and stand up for justice, especially on behalf of the immigrant and refugee.

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The Little—and Big—Things

By: Roxane Ramos

The Kino Border Initiative uses all its in-kind donations in the service of feeding, housing and helping deported migrants.

KBI staff and volunteers help the migrants at the comedor select the garments they need. Photo by Roxane Ramos.

KBI staff and volunteers help the migrants at the comedor select the garments they need.
Photo by Roxane Ramos.

We all know it takes a village to accomplish formidable projects. At the KBI, it also takes shampoo, soap, toothpaste, and socks. The KBI is grateful to so many supporters who have donated toiletries, clothing and other necessities over the years. These in-kind donations are a crucial contribution, supplying basic provisions to the migrants who visit the comedor and stay at the shelter. After their long, treacherous journeys, the chance to shave or replace a torn jacket not only addresses the practical issues of grooming and dressing; it helps restore a modicum of dignity and, often, hope.

After the long distances traveled, the migrant need to replace their shoes.  Photo by Larry Hanelin.

After the long distances traveled, the migrant need to replace their shoes.
Photo by Larry Hanelin.

In addition, the KBI thanks donors who have provided office supplies, printers, computers and furniture. These donations help the KBI offices run smoothly, and defray administrative and operational costs.

Toothpaste is distributed for packages the migrants take with them. Photo by Larry Hanelin.

Toothpaste is distributed for packages the migrants take with them.
Photo by Larry Hanelin.

There are all sorts of creative ways to encourage in-kind donations from your church, school or other organization. For Halloween, Brophy College Preparatory instituted “Boo Jean” day—students deciding to wear jeans each brought a pair to donate to the KBI. Their donations mean dozens of migrants will have suitable attire for whatever lies ahead.

A creative way to spur donations: The students of Brophy College Preparatory in Phoenix either wore jeans on Halloween or brought a pair to donate to the KBI for their “Boo Jean” campaign. Photo from Brophy College Preparatory.

A creative way to spur donations: The students of Brophy College Preparatory in Phoenix either wore jeans on Halloween or brought a pair to donate to the KBI for their “Boo Jean” campaign.
Photo from Brophy College Preparatory.

During this holiday season, please consider an in-kind donation to the KBI. From shampoo to shoes, from printing paper to toothbrushes, it all helps the KBI help the migrants. Food items are also welcome and right now, juice concentrate and rice would be most helpful. For a complete and current wish list, scroll to the bottom of: https://www.kinoborderinitiative.org/get-involved/donate/ And to make a donation, please contact Ivette Fuentes at ifuentes@kinoborderinitiative.org or (520) 287-2370, Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 1:30pm.

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The Missing Students in Mexico

The disappearance of 43 students, apprehended by police while peacefully organizing an “action” in the small Guerrero city of Iguala last month, sent shock waves throughout the world, and heightened the pervasive feelings of both fear and outrage in Mexico. Though a federal investigation is under way to determine what has happened to these young people, who were studying to be teachers in rural schools, the likelihood is that they met a violent end at the hands of narco-traffickers as law enforcement and local leaders looked the other way. In fact, Iguala’s mayor and wife are suspected of ordering the abduction and are now fugitives. According to Father Alejandro Solalinde, the country’s most outspoken defender of human rights and the keynote speaker at the KBI’s 5th anniversary forum, a recently found mass grave may indeed contain the students’ remains despite government reports to the contrary.

missing students

This rampant corruption, collusion of criminals and politicians, and state-sanctioned murder are among the reasons so many have fled Mexico, crossing the border any way they can. This week, marches are being organized in Mexico City and throughout the country as citizens demand justice and an end to the violence and corruption.

Francisco Goldman chronicles what we know so far in this New Yorker article from October 24: http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/crisis-mexico-disappearance-forty-three

More details from Fr. Solalinde’s interview with television journalist Carmen Aristegui can be found here: http://aristeguinoticias.com/1710/mexico/asesinaron-a-normalistas-y-a-algunos-los-quemaron-vivos-padre-alejandro-solalinde/

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Support KBI while shopping!

Support KBI while you shop during this holiday season via Amazon.com!

[just type Kino Border Initiative as your favorite charity at:] —> http://smile.amazon.com/

amazon.smile

 

 

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Church without Frontiers, Mother to All

In anticipation of the 2015 World Day of Migrants and Refugees, Pope Francis sends a message of peaceful coexistence, inclusion and compassion.

Pope Francis, welcomed by a crowd in Varginha, Brazil, July 2013. Public domain image from Wiki Commons, photo by Tânia Rêgo.

Pope Francis, welcomed by a crowd in Varginha, Brazil, July 2013.
Public domain image from Wiki Commons, photo by Tânia Rêgo.

ENGLISH:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Jesus is “the evangelizer par excellence and the Gospel in person” (Evangelii Gaudium, 209). His solicitude, particularly for the most vulnerable and marginalized, invites all of us to care for the frailest and to recognize his suffering countenance, especially in the victims of new forms of poverty and slavery. The Lord says: “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me” (Mt 25:35-36). The mission of the Church, herself a pilgrim in the world and the Mother of all, is thus to love Jesus Christ, to adore and love him, particularly in the poorest and most abandoned; among these are certainly migrants and refugees, who are trying to escape difficult living conditions and dangers of every kind. For this reason, the theme for this year’s World Day of Migrants and Refugees is: Church without frontiers, mother to all.

The Church opens her arms to welcome all people, without distinction or limits, in order to proclaim that “God is love” (1 Jn 4:8,16). After his death and resurrection, Jesus entrusted to the disciples the mission of being his witnesses and proclaiming the Gospel of joy and mercy. On the day of Pentecost, the disciples left the Upper Room with courage and enthusiasm; the strength of the Holy Spirit overcame their doubts and uncertainties and enabled all to understand the disciples’ preaching in their own language. From the beginning, the Church has been a mother with a heart open to the whole world, and has been without borders. This mission has continued for two thousand years. But even in the first centuries, the missionary proclamation spoke of the universal motherhood of the Church, which was then developed in the writings of the Fathers and taken up by the Second Vatican Council. The Council Fathers spoke of Ecclesia Mater to explain the Church’s nature. She begets sons and daughters and “takes them in and embraces them with her love and in her heart” (Lumen Gentium, 14).

The Church without frontiers, Mother to all, spreads throughout the world a culture of acceptance and solidarity, in which no one is seen as useless, out of place or disposable. When living out this motherhood effectively, the Christian community nourishes, guides and indicates the way, accompanying all with patience, and drawing close to them through prayer and works of mercy.

Today this takes on a particular significance. In fact, in an age of such vast movements of migration, large numbers of people are leaving their homelands, with a suitcase full of fears and desires, to undertake a hopeful and dangerous trip in search of more humane living conditions. Often, however, such migration gives rise to suspicion and hostility, even in ecclesial communities, prior to any knowledge of the migrants’ lives or their stories of persecution and destitution. In such cases, suspicion and prejudice conflict with the biblical commandment of welcoming with respect and solidarity the stranger in need.

On the other hand, we sense in our conscience the call to touch human misery, and to put into practice the commandment of love that Jesus left us when he identified himself with the stranger, with the one who suffers, with all the innocent victims of violence and exploitation. Because of the weakness of our nature, however, “we are tempted to be that kind of Christian who keeps the Lord’s wounds at arm’s length” (Evangelii Gaudium, 270).

The courage born of faith, hope and love enables us to reduce the distances that separate us from human misery. Jesus Christ is always waiting to be recognized in migrants and refugees, in displaced persons and in exiles, and through them he calls us to share our resources, and occasionally to give up something of our acquired riches. Pope Paul VI spoke of this when he said that “the more fortunate should renounce some of their rights so as to place their goods more generously at the service of others” (Octogesima Adveniens, 23).

The multicultural character of society today, for that matter, encourages the Church to take on new commitments of solidarity, communion and evangelization. Migration movements, in fact, call us to deepen and strengthen the values needed to guarantee peaceful coexistence between persons and cultures. Achieving mere tolerance that respects diversity and ways of sharing between different backgrounds and cultures is not sufficient. This is precisely where the Church contributes to overcoming frontiers and encouraging the “moving away from attitudes of defensiveness and fear, indifference and marginalization … towards attitudes based on a culture of encounter, the only culture capable of building a better, more just and fraternal world” (Message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2014).

Migration movements, however, are on such a scale that only a systematic and active cooperation between States and international organizations can be capable of regulating and managing such movements effectively. For migration affects everyone, not only because of the extent of the phenomenon, but also because of “the social, economic, political, cultural and religious problems it raises, and the dramatic challenges it poses to nations and the international community” (Caritas in Veritate, 62).

At the international level, frequent debates take place regarding the appropriateness, methods and required norms to deal with the phenomenon of migration. There are agencies and organizations on the international, national and local level which work strenuously to serve those seeking a better life through migration. Notwithstanding their generous and laudable efforts, a more decisive and constructive action is required, one which relies on a universal network of cooperation, based on safeguarding the dignity and centrality of every human person. This will lead to greater effectiveness in the fight against the shameful and criminal trafficking of human beings, the violation of fundamental rights, and all forms of violence, oppression and enslavement. Working together, however, requires reciprocity, joint-action, openness and trust, in the knowledge that “no country can singlehandedly face the difficulties associated with this phenomenon, which is now so widespread that it affects every continent in the twofold movement of immigration and emigration” (Message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2014).

It is necessary to respond to the globalization of migration with the globalization of charity and cooperation, in such a way as to make the conditions of migrants more humane. At the same time, greater efforts are needed to guarantee the easing of conditions, often brought about by war or famine, which compel whole peoples to leave their native countries.
Solidarity with migrants and refugees must be accompanied by the courage and creativity necessary to develop, on a world-wide level, a more just and equitable financial and economic order, as well as an increasing commitment to peace, the indispensable condition for all authentic progress.

Dear migrants and refugees! You have a special place in the heart of the Church, and you help her to enlarge her heart and to manifest her motherhood towards the entire human family. Do not lose your faith and hope! Let us think of the Holy Family during the flight in Egypt: Just as the maternal heart of the Blessed Virgin and the kind heart of Saint Joseph kept alive the confidence that God would never abandon them, so in you may the same hope in the Lord never be wanting. I entrust you to their protection and I cordially impart to all of you my Apostolic Blessing.

From the Vatican, 3 September 2014

SPANISH:

Pope Francis among the people of St. Peter’s Square in Rome, May 2013. Public domain image from Wiki Commons, photo by Edgar Jiménez.

Pope Francis among the people of St. Peter’s Square in Rome, May 2013.
Public domain image from Wiki Commons, photo by Edgar Jiménez.

Queridos hermanos y hermanas:
Jesús es «el evangelizador por excelencia y el Evangelio en persona» (Exhort. ap. Evangelii gaudium, 209). Su solicitud especial por los más vulnerables y excluidos nos invita a todos a cuidar a las personas más frágiles y a reconocer su rostro sufriente, sobre todo en las víctimas de las nuevas formas de pobreza y esclavitud. El Señor dice: «Tuve hambre y me disteis de comer, tuve sed y me disteis de beber, fui forastero y me hospedasteis, estuve desnudo y me vestisteis, enfermo y me visitasteis, en la cárcel y vinisteis a verme» (Mt 25,35-36). Misión de la Iglesia, peregrina en la tierra y madre de todos, es por tanto amar a Jesucristo, adorarlo y amarlo, especialmente en los más pobres y desamparados; entre éstos, están ciertamente los emigrantes y los refugiados, que intentan dejar atrás difíciles condiciones de vida y todo tipo de peligros. Por eso, el lema de la Jornada Mundial del Emigrante y del Refugiado de este año es: Una Iglesia sin fronteras, madre de todos.

En efecto, la Iglesia abre sus brazos para acoger a todos los pueblos, sin discriminaciones y sin límites, y para anunciar a todos que «Dios es amor» (1 Jn 4,8.16). Después de su muerte y resurrección, Jesús confió a sus discípulos la misión de ser sus testigos y de proclamar el Evangelio de la alegría y de la misericordia. Ellos, el día de Pentecostés, salieron del Cenáculo con valentía y entusiasmo; la fuerza del Espíritu Santo venció sus dudas y vacilaciones, e hizo que cada uno escuchase su anuncio en su propia lengua; así desde el comienzo, la Iglesia es madre con el corazón abierto al mundo entero, sin fronteras. Este mandato abarca una historia de dos milenios, pero ya desde los primeros siglos el anuncio misionero hizo visible la maternidad universal de la Iglesia, explicitada después en los escritos de los Padres y retomada por el Concilio Ecuménico Vaticano II. Los Padres conciliares hablaron de Ecclesia mater para explicar su naturaleza. Efectivamente, la Iglesia engendra hijos e hijas y los incorpora y «los abraza con amor y solicitud como suyos» (Const. dogm. sobre la Iglesia Lumen gentium, 14).

La Iglesia sin fronteras, madre de todos, extiende por el mundo la cultura de la acogida y de la solidaridad, según la cual nadie puede ser considerado inútil, fuera de lugar o descartable. Si vive realmente su maternidad, la comunidad cristiana alimenta, orienta e indica el camino, acompaña con paciencia, se hace cercana con la oración y con las obras de misericordia.

Todo esto adquiere hoy un significado especial. De hecho, en una época de tan vastas migraciones, un gran número de personas deja sus lugares de origen y emprende el arriesgado viaje de la esperanza, con el equipaje lleno de deseos y de temores, a la búsqueda de condiciones de vida más humanas. No es extraño, sin embargo, que estos movimientos migratorios susciten desconfianza y rechazo, también en las comunidades eclesiales, antes incluso de conocer las circunstancias de persecución o de miseria de las personas afectadas. Esos recelos y prejuicios se oponen al mandamiento bíblico de acoger con respeto y solidaridad al extranjero necesitado.

Por una parte, oímos en el sagrario de la conciencia la llamada a tocar la miseria humana y a poner en práctica el mandamiento del amor que Jesús nos dejó cuando se identificó con el extranjero, con quien sufre, con cuantos son víctimas inocentes de la violencia y la explotación. Por otra parte, sin embargo, a causa de la debilidad de nuestra naturaleza, “sentimos la tentación de ser cristianos manteniendo una prudente distancia de las llagas del Señor” (Exhort. ap. Evangelii gaudium, 270).

La fuerza de la fe, de la esperanza y de la caridad permite reducir las distancias que nos separan de los dramas humanos. Jesucristo espera siempre que lo reconozcamos en los emigrantes y en los desplazados, en los refugiados y en los exiliados, y asimismo nos llama a compartir nuestros recursos, y en ocasiones a renunciar a nuestro bienestar. Lo recordaba el Papa Pablo VI, diciendo que «los más favorecidos deben renunciar a algunos de sus derechos para poner con mayor liberalidad sus bienes al servicio de los demás» (Carta ap. Octogesima adveniens, 14 mayo 1971, 23).

Por lo demás, el carácter multicultural de las sociedades actuales invita a la Iglesia a asumir nuevos compromisos de solidaridad, de comunión y de evangelización. Los movimientos migratorios, de hecho, requieren profundizar y reforzar los valores necesarios para garantizar una convivencia armónica entre las personas y las culturas. Para ello no basta la simple tolerancia, que hace posible el respeto de la diversidad y da paso a diversas formas de solidaridad entre las personas de procedencias y culturas diferentes. Aquí se sitúa la vocación de la Iglesia a superar las fronteras y a favorecer «el paso de una actitud defensiva y recelosa, de desinterés o de marginación a una actitud que ponga como fundamento la “cultura del encuentro”, la única capaz de construir un mundo más justo y fraterno» (Mensaje para la Jornada Mundial del Emigrante y del Refugiado 2014).

Sin embargo, los movimientos migratorios han asumido tales dimensiones que sólo una colaboración sistemática y efectiva que implique a los Estados y a las Organizaciones internacionales puede regularlos eficazmente y hacerles frente. En efecto, las migraciones interpelan a todos, no sólo por las dimensiones del fenómeno, sino también «por los problemas sociales, económicos, políticos, culturales y religiosos que suscita, y por los dramáticos desafíos que plantea a las comunidades nacionales y a la comunidad internacional» (Benedicto XVI, Carta enc. Caritas in veritate, 29 junio 2009, 62).

En la agenda internacional tienen lugar frecuentes debates sobre las posibilidades, los métodos y las normativas para afrontar el fenómeno de las migraciones. Hay organismos e instituciones, en el ámbito internacional, nacional y local, que ponen su trabajo y sus energías al servicio de cuantos emigran en busca de una vida mejor. A pesar de sus generosos y laudables esfuerzos, es necesaria una acción más eficaz e incisiva, que se sirva de una red universal de colaboración, fundada en la protección de la dignidad y centralidad de la persona humana. De este modo, será más efectiva la lucha contra el tráfico vergonzoso y delictivo de seres humanos, contra la vulneración de los derechos fundamentales, contra cualquier forma de violencia, vejación y esclavitud. Trabajar juntos requiere reciprocidad y sinergia, disponibilidad y confianza, sabiendo que «ningún país puede afrontar por sí solo las dificultades unidas a este fenómeno que, siendo tan amplio, afecta en este momento a todos los continentes en el doble movimiento de inmigración y emigración» (Mensaje para la Jornada Mundial del Emigrante y del Refugiado 2014).

A la globalización del fenómeno migratorio hay que responder con la globalización de la caridad y de la cooperación, para que se humanicen las condiciones de los emigrantes. Al mismo tiempo, es necesario intensificar los esfuerzos para crear las condiciones adecuadas para garantizar una progresiva disminución de las razones que llevan a pueblos enteros a dejar su patria a causa de guerras y carestías, que a menudo se concatenan unas a otras.

A la solidaridad con los emigrantes y los refugiados es preciso añadir la voluntad y la creatividad necesarias para desarrollar mundialmente un orden económico-financiero más justo y equitativo, junto con un mayor compromiso por la paz, condición indispensable para un auténtico progreso.

Queridos emigrantes y refugiados, ocupáis un lugar especial en el corazón de la Iglesia, y la ayudáis a tener un corazón más grande para manifestar su maternidad con la entera familia humana. No perdáis la confianza ni la esperanza. Miremos a la Sagrada Familia exiliada en Egipto: así como en el corazón materno de la Virgen María y en el corazón solícito de san José se mantuvo la confianza en Dios que nunca nos abandona, que no os falte esta misma confianza en el Señor. Os encomiendo a su protección y os imparto de corazón la Bendición Apostólica.

Vaticano, 3 de septiembre de 2014

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The Art of the Camino

By: Roxane Ramos

An exhibit the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe explores the migration experience, a cornerstone of human history.

Desde tepeyac a la gran manzana/From Tepeya to the Big Apple (detail), Catalina Delgado Trunk, Albuquerque 2002. Papeles picados in honor of the undocumented Mexican immigrants who lost their lives in 9/11. Photo by Roxane Ramos.

Desde tepeyac a la gran manzana/From Tepeya to the Big Apple (detail), Catalina Delgado Trunk, Albuquerque 2002. Papeles picados in honor of the undocumented Mexican immigrants who lost their lives in 9/11.
Photo by Roxane Ramos.

The gallery is small, but its name looms large: the Gallery of Conscience. It’s an experimental exhibition space, dedicated to folk art and social change, within Santa Fe’s renowned Museum of International Folk Art (MIFA). The current exhibition, on view through January 17, 2016, is entitled Between Two Worlds: Folk Artists Reflect on the Immigrant Experience, and it collects, in one room, a wide range of testimony in the form of art and interactive displays about the experiences of leaving one’s home, being left behind, and welcoming newcomers. In this participatory space, the artists, curators and visitors all have a say.

The exhibit is both educational and emotional. At the Kino Border Initiative’s fifth anniversary forum in January, Isabel Garcia, the director of the Pima County Legal Defender’s Office and co-chair of Derechos Humanos, pointed out the critical importance of learning about the history of migration, so pivotal to the development of civilization, agriculture, industry, economics, science and art, yet omitted from many school curricula. It’s easy to feel ourselves separate from this ever-present human phenomenon. But every one of us has a migration story in our personal or family stories, whether the nature of the migration was forced (as in the case of slavery), provoked (by violence or poverty in one’s homeland, for example), or voluntary (attending university in a foreign country and staying).

Retirantes/Retreatants, ca. 1991, Antonio Rodrigues, Pernambuco, Brazil. Photo by Roxane Ramos.

Retirantes/Retreatants, ca. 1991, Antonio Rodrigues, Pernambuco, Brazil.
Photo by Roxane Ramos.

The MIFA exhibition removes this false “us/them” division by engaging visitors with inquiries and interactive tasks. “If you had to leave your home, and could only bring what you could carry, what would it be?” asks one sign, posted above an array of everyday objects, from a water bottle to a cat carrier. People are invited to write down what they would bring, and at other installations, consider what makes them feel at home (“I can smell my grandpa’s cooking.” “I can take my shoes off.”), identify their countries of origin, or draw favorite foods on paper plates. “Immigration brings up strong feelings, both personal and political,” said Dr. Suzanne Seriff, director of the Gallery of Conscience. As visitors grapple with those issues and emotions, the common thread of movement and migration in our individual and collective histories becomes progressively more apparent, and the displays encourage people to remember or reflect on what it’s like to make a home in a new, unfamiliar, possibly unfriendly place.

Museum visitors are invited to identify the places they or their ancestors came from. Photo by Roxane Ramos.

Museum visitors are invited to identify the places they or their ancestors came from.
Photo by Roxane Ramos.

The exhibit includes handmade embroidery, carvings, paintings, drawings, and beadwork about immigrant journeys as well as a short documentary about the Native American experience of displacement, both historic and ongoing. A work of cut paper (papeles picados) by Catalina Delgado Trunk is particularly moving—Our Lady Of Guadalupe flanked by delicate roses with thorns and resplendent monarch butterflies, symbols of beauty, pain, growth, flight and transformation. It is dedicated to the undocumented Mexican migrants who worked and perished in the Twin Towers on 9/11. Pleasure and enchantment at the exquisite execution of the piece are replaced by shock and sorrow at the magnitude of loss that touched so many. The indelible image of Guadalupe combined with the fragile nature of the materials capture these conflicting sentiments perfectly.

The current debate about immigration reform in the U.S. and the increasing globalization of our world highlight the relevance and timeliness of MIFA’s exhibit. The artwork and visitor responses draw us into a dialogue about our shared experiences, how we define “home,” and how we locate it in the midst of all the movement and change. The exhibit’s title, Between Two Worlds, identifies a frequent conflict for many migrants. Where does one fit in? How can one strike a balance between embracing a new place and maintaining connections with the traditions and people left behind? Artist Catalina Delgado Trunk expresses it best in a quote posted by the gallery exit: “When I die, throw my ashes in the Rio Grande. The ashes will decide where I belong: Mexico or the United States.”

Exhibition signage encourages visitors to identify with migrants and the challenges they face. Photo by Roxane Ramos.

Exhibition signage encourages visitors to identify with migrants and the challenges they face.
Photo by Roxane Ramos.

To Learn More: For more information about the Museum of International Folk Art’s exhibit, Between Two Worlds: Folk Artists Reflect on the Immigrant Experience, see: http://www.internationalfolkart.org/exhibitions/betweentwoworlds.html

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