The Pontiff mentioned the international scope of migration. “According to United Nations estimates, there are almost 200 million migrants, about 9 million refugees and 2 million international students;” to these we must add, “a great number of brothers and sisters who are internally displaced people or irregular”, and especially remember that to each “corresponds, one way or another, a family”.
For Benedict XVI we must first look at this phenomenon in religious terms and remember the Holy Family, “icon of all families, because it reflects the image of God that is held in the heart of each human family even when it is weakened and sometimes scarred by life’s experiences.”
“In this misfortune experienced by the Family of Nazareth [. . .] we can catch a glimpse of the painful condition in which all migrants live, especially, refugees, exiles, evacuees, internally displaced persons, those who are persecuted. We can take a quick look at the difficulties that every migrant family lives through, the hardships and humiliations, the deprivation and fragility of millions,” he said.
The Pope’s appeal is not directed only at Christians but to all people of good will and the entire international community. “It is important to protect migrants and their families by means of specific legislative, legal and administrative measures as well as a network of services, listening posts and social and pastoral assistance structures. I hope that migratory flows and, generally speaking human mobility, may be soon managed in balanced ways so as to benefit the whole human family, starting with concrete measures that favour regular migration and family reunification, especially in the case of women and minors. In fact, even within the wide field of international migration, the human person should always be at the centre”.
In light of the problems that integrating new cultural and ethnic groups entails, Benedict XVI suggests once again the principle that both migrants and the host society should mutually welcome one another. “Only respect for the human dignity of all migrants on the one hand, and the acknowledgement of the host society’s values by migrants themselves on the other, can families be properly integrated in the social, economic and political structures of the host societies”.
In a globalised society where migration is a daily occurrence and where self-ghettoisation is a temptation, the Pope noted that “the reality of migration should never be seen as a problem but rather as a great resource in humanity’s journey. The migrant family is especially a resource so long as it is respected as such and is not subjected to irreparable breaks but is allowed to remain united or to form again and fulfil its mission as the cradle of life and the first circle in which the human person is received and educated.”
In name of this commitment, the Pope called for the “intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, patron saint of migrants”.
Following the Angelus prayer, among the many multilingual greetings Benedict XVI greeted in Italian some groups of young migrants who were present among the thousands of pilgrims in St Peter’s Square.