Pope: Migrants “active members of society, sharing same rights and duties”
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - " Faith and hope are often among the possessions which emigrants carry with them" which animate their search for a better future and to them the Church and the various realities that are inspired by it must "avoid offering charitable services alone; they are also called to promote real integration in a society where all are active members and responsible for one another's welfare, generously offering a creative contribution and rightfully sharing in the same rights and duties ".
Thus writes Benedict XVI in his message for the 99th World Day of Migrants and Refugees - which will be celebrated Sunday, January 13, 2013 - released today and which has the theme "Migration: a pilgrimage of faith and hope."
Nowadays, says the Pope, migration involves millions of people. It is, as pointed out by Card. Antonio Maria Veglio, president of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, citing the 2011 World Migration Report of the World Organisation for Migration (IOM) of about one billion people, that is one-seventh of the global population,
For those who migrate, writes Benedict XVI, "faith and hope are inseparable in the hearts of many migrants, who deeply desire a better life and not infrequently try to leave behind the "hopelessness" of an unpromising future. During their journey many of them are sustained by the deep trust that God never abandons his children; this certainty makes the pain of their uprooting and separation more tolerable and even gives them the hope of eventually returning to their country of origin."
The papal document examines the approach to migrants both from the ecclesiastical point of view and at a national and international level, based on the fundamental premise that "Every migrant is a human person who, as such, possesses fundamental, inalienable rights that must be respected by all and in every situation".
"In the vast sector of migration, the Church shows her maternal concern in a variety of ways.
On the one hand, she witnesses the immense poverty and suffering entailed in migration, leading often to painful and tragic situations. This inspires the creation of programmes aimed at meeting emergencies through the generous help of individuals and groups, volunteer associations and movements, parochial and diocesan organizations in cooperation with all people of good will". "The Church also works to highlight the positive aspects, the potential and the resources which migrations offer. Along these lines, programmes and centres of welcome have been established to help and sustain the full integration of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees into a new social and cultural context, without neglecting the religious dimension, fundamental for every person's life".
On the other hand, if "every state has the right to regulate migration and to enact policies dictated by the general requirements of the common good, albeit always in safeguarding respect for the dignity of each human person", "The process of integration entails rights and duties, attention and concern for the dignified existence of migrants; it also calls for attention on the part of migrants to the values offered by the society to which they now belong".
And if a person's right to emigrate is recognized as a fundamental human right, "In the current social and political context, however, even before the right to migrate, there is need to reaffirm the right not to emigrate, that is, to remain in one's homeland; as Blessed John Paul II stated.
"In this regard, we must not overlook the question of irregular migration, an issue all the more pressing when it takes the form of human trafficking and exploitation, particularly of women and children. These crimes must be clearly condemned and prosecuted, while an orderly migration policy which does not end up in a hermetic sealing of borders, more severe sanctions against irregular migrants and the adoption of measures meant to discourage new entries, could at least limit for many migrants the danger of falling prey to such forms of human trafficking. There is an urgent need for structured multilateral interventions for the development of the countries of departure, effective countermeasures aimed at eliminating human trafficking, comprehensive programmes regulating legal entry, and a greater openness to considering individual cases calling for humanitarian protection more than political asylum".
"In addition to suitable legislation", concluded the Pope, "there is a need for a patient and persevering effort to form minds and consciences. In all this, it is important to strengthen and develop understanding and cooperation between ecclesial and other institutions devoted to promoting the integral development of the human person. In the Christian vision, social and humanitarian commitment draws its strength from fidelity to the Gospel, in the knowledge that "to follow Christ, the perfect man, is to become more human oneself" (Gaudium et Spes, 41)".