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Cardinal Michael Czerny, SJ, responsible for the Section of Migrants and Refugees of the Dicastery for the Service of Integral Human Development of the Vatican, was in charge of presenting the awards of the Second Father Arrupe Award for Human Rights granted by the University Institute for the Study of Migration (IUEM) of the Comillas Pontifical University last May 20th. Czerny highlighted the work of the award winners - the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) and the journalist Jesús Blasco de Avellaneda - and had words for the situation of migrants in the world provoked by the COVID-19:  "Which not only aggravates the violations of human rights that are already taking place, but also acts as an amplifier, a magnifying glass or an X-ray that reveals the immoral social structures present in the world".

During the event - which was held online because of the COVID-19 - Czerny revealed a handwritten letter from the Pope in which the Holy Father assures that the Father Arrupe Award "encourages us to open our eyes, ears and hands ever more to those who suffer hunger, injustice and violence, aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic". Thus, the Cardinal urged that the pandemic "can and must open the eyes of those who are responsible for them. And these are not only those who hold the reins of the economy and politics, but also consumers and citizens who, more or less consciously, insist on a lifestyle based on exploitation, which is less and less sustainable, both of people and of the planet".

Awards for social involvement

Tom Smolich, SJ, International Director of JRS, accepted the award given to this organization which has now celebrated its 40th anniversary. The Jesuit referred to the commitment of Pope Francis, "the best advocate for refugees and displaced persons, who effectively sums up the action proposed to all members of the Church: to welcome, protect, promote and integrate".

Smolich also remembered the nearly 80 million forcibly displaced persons, according to the latest UNHCR figures, and all the lay people, Jesuits, and other religious who, throughout all these years, have stood by the refugees and displaced persons, trying to give light to their lives and voice to their aspirations.

For his part, the journalist Jesús Blasco de Avellaneda defined Father Arrupe as "a reference for the people who have a vocation to serve", and he thanked the IUEM for its work, for creating this award and for remembering those people who "sometimes we stop looking at our navels to try to see Christ in the face of the other and do something for him".

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