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The Role of the Catholic Church in the Global Governance of Migration

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This paper presents some highlights from work in progress analysing the contribution of the Christian churches, especially the Catholic to the management of refugee challenges and migration flows. After providing a historical overview of the Catholic engagement with migration issues and outlining the key ideas at the heart of the social doctrine of the Church, the paper moves onto the present context, discussing the practical and discursive ways in which Catholic institutions, religious leaders (e.g.the Pope, Bishops conferences), NGOs address the condition and the needs of people on the move and relate to secular institutions and policy networks, on a national and global level, whose focus is the management of migration and refugees. Using examples from the European and US context the paper reflects on the global role of the Catholic church both in terms of institutional perspective and from the view point of the moral values and the political theology at the heart of the Christian tradition. Finally it highlights the sui generis position of the Catholic church vis a’ vis policy and academic debates on the Global Governance of Migration. It considers the extent to which it works within and simultaneously challenges the rationale and the assumptions driving policy makers and institutions working in this sector.

Dr Sara Silvestri is currently Senior Lecturer in International Politics at City, University of London, where she teaches religion and politics and EU politics. She is also an Affiliated Lecturer with POLIS , University of Cambridge and Bye Fellow of St Edmund’s College, where she is a research associate with the Von Huegel Institute. She obtained her MPhil and PhD from the University of Cambridge, where she also held an ESRC Post-Doc, and has worked as a policy advisor in Brussels, on issues concerning Islamism and multiculturalism. Sara specialises in public policies about religion in the EU and faith-based political mobilisation (with a focus on Islam and Christianity). Recent coauthored publications include Deconstructing (Irish and Muslim) Suspect Communities (Journalism Studies, 2012), The role of religion in conflict and peace-building (DfID and British Academy 2015), and Integrating Religious Engagement into Diplomacy (Brookings, 2015), while her latest research project, sponsored by the Plater Trust, examined the relevance of Catholic Social Teaching in the mobilisation of Catholic charities working in the field of migration in the UK.

This talk is part of the Centre of Governance and Human Rights Events series.

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