New book examines the plight of migrants from a Christian perspective

Author: Patrick Gibbons

“A Theology of Migration,” a new book by Rev. Daniel Groody, C.S.C., vice president and associate provost for undergraduate education at the University of Notre Dame, examines the historical, philosophical and theological perspectives on migration and asks readers to reconsider their views on how to understand and respond to this global crisis.

This book is an interdisciplinary study, but, as its title suggests, it is grounded on a deeply religious and spiritual view of migration. Featuring a foreword by Pope Francis, it documents the current divisive perspectives about migrants and seeks to foster a more human and Christian point of view on one of the most complex and pressing challenges of our time. Key facts from the book include:

  • By the first two decades in the third millennium, there were more than 281 million international migrants around the world, a number likely to reach 405 million by 2050.
  • At the end of 2019, there were roughly 79.5 million forcibly displaced people on the planet, including 26 million refugees, 45.7 million internally displaced people and 4.2 million asylum seekers.
  • As of 2019, as many as 40.3 million people around the world live in “modern-day slavery” as forced laborers, bonded laborers, child soldiers and sex-trafficking victims.

Through a series of compelling narratives, Father Groody draws on his years of working with migrants and farmworkers in the American West and on various continents around the world, putting a human face on issues that are all too often reduced to data and statistics.

“As we look beyond the staggering numbers, my hope is that readers of the book will come to see the human face of the migrant and the face of God in each migrant,” Father Groody said. “I hope that a theological perspective will contribute to reforming our dehumanized narratives and dysfunctional policies and reframe how we think, respond and structure our responses to this global crisis. It seeks to stimulate more creative and compassionate ways to work toward a just and humane society.”

The book highlights the integral connection between the inner journey of faith and the outer journey of migrants by drawing correlations between the biblical migration stories and the complex contemporary situations facing migrants today. Father Groody asks readers to view the plight of migrants who are victims of war, economics and international crime under the light of a more comprehensive vision of spiritual communion and global solidarity.

The book also looks at some of the approaches being taken by organizations to assist these victims in Central and South America and in U.S.-Mexico border communities.

An internationally recognized expert on migration and refugee issues whose papers and books have been translated into seven languages, Father Groody is an associate professor of theology and global affairs at Notre Dame and a Trustee and Fellow of the University. He is the author of “Globalization, Spirituality, and Justice: Navigating a Path to Peace” and “Border of Death, Valley of Life: An Immigrant Journey of Heart and Spirit,” and he has edited or co-edited four books on poverty, justice and migration. He has also produced various documentary films on this subject.

Through detailed analysis and first-person accounts, he asks readers of “A Theology of Migration” to open their hearts and minds not only to the challenges migrants have faced over the millennia, but also to the contributions migrants have made in their adopted homelands and societies.

“Regardless of one’s political perspectives, and however one evaluates the issue of immigration, virtually everyone can agree that the current approach in the United States is not working,” Father Groody said. “We can and should do better because ultimately it is connected to who we become as people in our migration through this world.”

A book launch event and interfaith conversation exploring religious perspectives on the treatment of migrants will be held from 9:30 to 11 a.m. Oct. 27 (Thursday) at the University of Notre Dame Keough School of Global Affairs Washington Office. Sponsored by the Keough School, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Migration and Refugee Services and Georgetown University’s Institute for the Study of International Migration, the event will include scholars, migration policy experts and others concerned about the treatment of migrants in the U.S. and globally.

Originally published by Patrick Gibbons at news.nd.edu on October 18, 2022.