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Women fleeing

We are getting used to seeing the motionless bodies of drowned children: for all who have at heart the value of life this image is the bleakest, the most inhuman and the most unbearable. We have touched the bottom but have not yet begun to rise again. The new data for 2016 on tragedies at sea leave no room for uncertainty or for hope: at least 600 children and 3,800 adults have already lost their lives or have disappeared in the Mediterranean, which is confirmed as the cemetery of desperate people fleeing from wars and poverty in the southern regions of the world. 

Lewis Hine “Italian Immigrants at Ellis Island” (1905)

However this is not only a European phenomenon. There is another boundary, that between the United States and Mexico, where every year hundreds of people die in their attempt to cross it. They almost always leave Central America to join a relative in the United States. Many do not make it, killed by their efforts or sold to human traffickers. It is precisely to them, and in particular to women emigrants, victims twice over, that we have wished to dedicate this issue of women church world, the last this year: to the people fleeing who, moving in masses, modify the geography of boundaries and world geopolitics, upset equilibria and force us to rethink our deepest values. The thread that links the stories of women which we are proposing here concerns the loneliness of the journey, on which the hopes felt at the moment of departure soon turn into a real calvary in the name of life in the future. Left to themselves, trapped at the gates of Europe or of America, or fleeing from Asian countries, these migrants are powerless victims of continuous violence. In spite of themselves, these women are protagonists of one of the chapters of the Third World War, evoked by the Pope. So let us say so. Let us admit it. Let us no longer deceive ourselves: we too can build ever higher walls, but the movement of people will continue. There is no turning back. And we are starting to think of new policies, of interventions aimed at serious integration, of a pastoral care for migrants that throughout their journey would accompany women and children: in a word, the “rejected” people. (silvina pérez)

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St. Peter’s Square

Aug. 20, 2019

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