Migration: “There is fake populism in today’s society” – Bishop Grech

Ian Noel Pace

In an interview given to Vatican Radio, Bishop of Gozo Mario Grech said that the impression given that people were against migration was a result of fake populism in today’s society. Commenting on Pope Francis’ Sunday’s message, Mgr Grech said that the Pope gave a voice to the most vulnerable not only to the asylum seekers victims of the standoff.

He continued to explain that many people would like the European Union to find a solution however the impression that was given was that people were against.

Furthermore, Bishop Grech explained that there was currently a lot of fear and misinformation which was holding people back from taking courageous decisions. He was replying to a question on the behaviour of governments, with particular reference to the Italian government. Mgr Grech proceeded to pose a rhetorical question, asking where were the human rights defenders. He observed that while the 70th anniversary of  Universal Declaration of Human Rights was marked recently, one questions where were these rights. He observed that society has become insensitive to defending the fundamental rights of others.

Describing society as “sick”, Mgr Grech said that the situation needs to be addressed, with the most immediate solution for the 49 people on board Sea Watch 3 and Professor Albrecht Plenck being to open “our doors to these people” citing the recent reports from the vessels’ medics. He also spoke of the need to educate in “good politics” referencing Pope Francis’ message for World Day of Peace.

‘We need to find a solution to this human tragedy’

The Bishop of Gozo observed that while migration was a complex issue and need a response which was calm and responsible, human life could not be put at risk. He replied that the most immediate solution would be to open our doors to the people caught in the standoff between the European states.

He then mentioned that there was talk of a Marshall Plan for Africa however the idea was only briefly mentioned. Mgr Grech said that the European political leaders needed to think and propose a solution. As for the work of the bishops in Malta on the issue, Mgr Grech said that they were creating conscience and that they prayed for human conscience when faced with such a tragedy.

He joined in with Malta’s Archbishop Charles Scicluna appeal to the European leaders, to find a solution to the current impasse without further delay noting that the situation was detoriating.

Referring to the ongoing discussions between the EU states on where should the asylum seekers be relocated, Mgr Grech asked about the timeline, reiterating that there were lives on the line, and warning that if any life was lost, that would be a “great injustice”.

“Giving without expecting any in return”

Referring to the Pope’s homily, Bishop Grech said that there was a need to learn to appreciate the idea of giving free without expecting anything in return and its logic. He said that men has become very materialistic these days and one was only open to others when there was an exchange, underlining the need to open to others and giving without expecting in return.

He noted how modern society exposed one’s poverty in values and faith, remarking that Europe was a Christian continent and asking where were the continent’s Christian values.