08/21/2017, 12.50
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Pope: Welcoming, protecting, promoting and integrating migrants and refugees

Message for 2018 World Migrant and Refugee Day, which will be celebrated next January 14th, released. Exhortations and suggestions for a reception that facilitates "personal encounter". No to expulsion and aptitude. A law that guarantees citizenship in accordance with international rules. The care of minors. Ensure religious freedom for migrants. Aid to developing countries supporting the greatest number of refugees. Push the UN to approve the two global pacts on refugees and migrants.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - The "Church's concern" for "the sad situation of so many migrants and refugees fleeing wars, persecution, natural disasters and poverty": This is what has pushed Pope Francis to express His attention to this "sign of the times" in a variety of ways since his visit to Lampedusa in 2013, to establish a "special section" for migrants in the new Dicastery for Integral Human Development. This solicitude - which he wants to share with "all believers and men and women of goodwill", also urged him to publish today the Message for the World Day of Immigrant and Refugee 2018, to be celebrated next January 14, On "Welcoming, protecting, promoting and integrating migrants and refugees".

The "global" character of the Message is important: it is not only addressed to European or Western countries, but to all countries around the world, recalling that according to UN figures, 84% of refugees find shelter in Turkey (which accommodates 2, 9 million people), Pakistan (1.4 million), Lebanon (over one million), Iran (979,400 migrants), Uganda (940,800) and Ethiopia (761,600).

The Message carries the date of August 15, a day devoted to the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary. The Pontiff recalls that "the Holy Mother of God herself experienced the hardship of exile (Matthew 2:13-15), lovingly accompanied her Son’s journey to Calvary, and now shares eternally his glory.  To her maternal intercession we entrust the hopes of all the world’s migrants and refugees and the aspirations of the communities which welcome them, so that, responding to the Lord’s supreme commandment, we may all learn to love the other, the stranger, as ourselves. "

The document addresses the "four verbs" of the theme with exhortations and suggestions.


Speaking about reception, the pope asks that migrants be given an " increase and simplify the process for granting humanitarian visas ". By refusing "collective and arbitrary" expulsion, he urges host countries to favor "a personal encounter and allow for greater quality of service and increased guarantees of success."



Here the Pontiff proposes " a series of steps intended to defend the rights and dignity of migrants and refugees, independent of their legal status ": "offering reliable and verified information before departure, and in providing safety from illegal recruitment practices "; " guaranteeing them adequate consular assistance, the right to personally retain their documents of identification at all times, fair access to justice, the possibility of opening a personal bank account, and a minimum sufficient to live on." Recalling that the skills and formation of migrants "are a true resource for the communities that welcome them," he hopes that "in countries of arrival, migrants may be offered freedom of movement, work opportunities, and access to means of communication, out of respect for their dignity ".

Particular attention should be given to children who are entitled to "regular access to primary and secondary education" and "temporary custody or foster programmes should be provided for unaccompanied minors and minors separated from their families”. Reiterating the rejection of "statelessness," he hopes that host countries will adopt “nationality legislation that is in conformity with the fundamental principles of international law” "for young children and those who have lived at length in the country.

“Migratory status - he says - should not limit access to national healthcare and pension plans, nor affect the transfer of their contributions if repatriated."


In this section, the Pope encourages " a determined effort to promote the social and professional inclusion of migrants and refugees, guaranteeing for all – including those seeking asylum – the possibility of employment, language instruction and active citizenship, together with sufficient information provided in their mother tongue.  ​​"; That "all foreigners present in the territory shall be guaranteed the freedom of profession and religious practice"; Humanitarian assistance and aid delivery especially to " developing countries which receive a significant influx of migrants and refugees" and that “local communities which are vulnerable and facing material hardship, will be included among aid beneficiaries”.


Integration means favoring "intercultural enrichment" generated by the presence of migrants and refugees. Integration, it is explained, " Integration is not “an assimilation that leads migrants to suppress or to forget their own cultural identity. Rather, contact with others leads to discovering their ‘secret’, to being open to them in order to welcome their valid aspects and thus contribute to knowing each one better. This is a lengthy process that aims to shape societies and cultures, making them more and more a reflection of the multi-faceted gifts of God to human beings”. " For this reason Francis insists on the need to "foster a culture of encounter in every way possible – by increasing opportunities for intercultural exchange, documenting and disseminating best practices of integration, and developing programmes to prepare local communities for integration processes."

An invitation to the world

True to the end of the Message, Francis emphasizes that " In line with her pastoral tradition, the Church is ready to commit herself to realising all the initiatives proposed above.  Yet in order to achieve the desired outcome, the contribution of political communities and civil societies is indispensable, each according to their own responsibilities ". That is why he invites faithful and people of good will "to take advantage of every opportunity to share this message with all the political and social actors involved."

In this regard, the Pontiff recalls that "at the United Nations Summit held in New York on 29 September 2016, world leaders clearly expressed their desire to take decisive action in support of migrants and refugees to save their lives and protect their rights, sharing this responsibility on a global level.  To this end, the states committed themselves to drafting and approving, before the end of 2018, two Global Compacts, one for refugees and the other for migrants".

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