Cardinal Tagle turns emotional as he recalls grandfather’s migration story

The Filipino cardinal said the refugee camps in Greece, Lebanon, Jordan, and Bangladesh, reminded him of his migrant roots

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle turned emotional while sharing the story of his grandfather’s migration journey from China to the Philippines as a child.

At a press briefing in the Vatican on Tuesday, June 15, the Filipino cardinal said the refugee camps in Greece, Lebanon, Jordan, and Bangladesh, reminded him of his migrant roots.

“In them, I saw my grandfather who was born in China, but was forced to leave his homeland as a young boy with his uncle for the Philippines in search of a better future,” he said.

The prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples then paused as he became visibly emotional.

During the media briefing, Cardinal Tagle described his meetings with refugees.

In reference to his visits to the Cox’s Bazar Rohingya camps in Bangladesh in 2018 and 2019, he said: “I remember that I had mixed feelings. A part of me rejoiced that they were being given the attention they deserved as human beings.”

“But at the same time, a part of me continued to be sad because I wondered if this was a permanent state of life for them or temporary,” he added.

He said he could not imagine how parents in that situation respond if their children ask them what the future holds.

The cardinal spoke about his personal experience with immigration during the press conference ahead of the June 20 conclusion of “Share the Journey,” a four-year global campaign by Caritas Internationalis.

Through “Share the Journey,” national Caritas agencies organized events and initiatives with the goal of promoting a culture of encounter with migrants and refugees.

Cardinal Tagle has been president of Caritas Internationalis since 2015.

“The Share the Journey campaign has been a great moment of encounter, solidarity, and for us, memory, and above all an expression of love. An expression of the love of the Church for people on the move. Christians, Muslims, Hindus, followers of other religions, and those with no religion were received as human persons,” said the cardinal.

“At a time when COVID-19 should lead to global solidarity, and at the same time when the States are more concerned with protecting their own citizens, with the risk of intensifying selfishness and the fear of strangers, the end of Caritas Internationalis’ global campaign is a call to continue to share the journey with migrants, especially at this most difficult moment,” he added.

“The campaign formally ends, but the mission continues.” – with a report from CNA

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