The Pope's message for next year's World Day of Migrants and Refugees was issued yesterday. Entitled: "For a Commitment to Overcome all Racism, Xenophobia and Exaggerated Nationalism," extracts are published below. "Migration has become a widespread phenomenon in the modern-day world and involves all nations, either as countries of departure, of transit or of arrival. It affects millions of human beings, and presents a challenge that the pilgrim Church, at the service of the whole human family, cannot fail to take up and meet in the Gospel spirit of universal charity. This year's World Day of Migrants and Refugees should be a time of special prayer for the needs of all who, for whatever reason, are far from home and family; it should be a day of serious reflection on the duties of Catholics towards these brothers and sisters. "Among those particularly affected are the most vulnerable of foreigners: undocumented migrants, refugees, asylum seekers, those displaced by continuing violent conflicts in many parts of the world, and the victims, mostly women and children, of the terrible crime of human trafficking. Even in the recent past we have witnessed tragic instances of forced movements of peoples for ethnic and nationalistic pretensions, which have added untold misery to the lives of targeted groups. At the root of these situations there are sinful intentions and actions that go contrary to the Gospel and constitute a call to Christians everywhere to overcome evil with good. "Membership in the Catholic community is not determined by nationality, or by social or ethnic origin, but essentially by faith in Jesus Christ and Baptism in the name of the Holy Trinity. The 'cosmopolitan' make-up of the People of God is visible today in practically every particular Church because migration has transformed even small and formerly isolated communities into pluralist and inter-cultural realities." "The Church understands that restricting membership of a local community on the basis of ethnic or other external characteristics would be an impoverishment for all concerned. ... Moreover, if newcomers feel unwelcome as they approach a particular parish community because they do not speak the local language or follow local customs, they easily become 'lost sheep'. The loss of such 'little ones' for reasons of even latent discrimination should be a cause of grave concern to pastors and faithful alike. "This takes us back to a subject which I have often mentioned in my Messages for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, namely, the Christian duty to welcome whoever comes knocking out of need. Such openness builds up vibrant Christian communities, enriched by the Spirit with the gifts brought to them by new disciples from other cultures. This basic expression of evangelical love is likewise the inspiration of countless programmes of solidarity towards migrants and refugees in all parts of the world." "Often, solidarity does not come easily. It requires training and a turning away from attitudes of closure, which in many societies today have become more subtle and penetrating. To deal with this phenomenon, the Church possesses vast educational and formative resources at all levels. I therefore appeal to parents and teachers to combat racism and xenophobia by inculcating positive attitudes based on Catholic social doctrine. "Being ever more deeply rooted in Christ, Christians must struggle to overcome any tendency to turn in on themselves, and learn to discern in people of other cultures the handiwork of God." "Understandably, as I urge Catholics to excel in the spirit of solidarity towards newcomers among them, I also invite the immigrants to recognize the duty to honour the countries which receive them and to respect the laws, culture and traditions of the people who have welcomed them. Only in this way will social harmony prevail. "The path to true acceptance of immigrants in their cultural diversity is actually a difficult one, in some cases a real Way of the Cross. ... At times that path needs a prophetic word that points out what is wrong and encourages what is right. When tensions arise, the credibility of the Church in her doctrine on the fundamental respect due to each person rests on the moral courage of pastors and faithful to 'stake everything on love'. "It hardly needs to be said that mixed cultural communities offer unique opportunities to deepen the gift of unity with other Christian Churches and ecclesial communities. Many of them in fact have worked within their own communities and with the Catholic Church to form societies in which the cultures of migrants and their special gifts are sincerely appreciated, and in which manifestations of racism, xenophobia and exaggerated nationalism are prophetically opposed." source Vatican Information Service
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