Holy Father: 'States must welcome migrants'

 ROME - 9 October 2008 - 855 words

In his Message for the 95th World Day of Migrants and Refugees, Pope Benedict has appealed for States around the world to welcome migrants.

Announcing the news yesterday, Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino, president and secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, said: "the phenomenon of migration in a globalised world is becoming effectively unstoppable. The problem will not be solved by closing frontiers, but by States welcoming - with just, well-balanced regulation - the migratory flows".

Archbishop Marchetto, vie president of the council, pointed out that "hospitality is a fundamental characteristic of the pastoral care of refugees, asylum-seekers and displaced persons. Hospitality ensures that we welcome others as persons - and in some cases also as brothers or sisters in the faith - and that we do not consider them as a cases, numbers, or mere components of the workforce".

"Closeness to others expressed in the form of hospitality effectively contradicts a large part of the messages, lifestyles and mentalities of the modern world", he said.

Cardinal Martino said: "the impression one gets is that for many years refugees have been treated with no consideration for the reasons that forced them to flee. This has also been translated into attempts to prevent their entry into States and into the adoption of measures aimed at making such entry more difficult" such as "the obligation to possess entrance visas, and the publication of lists of so-called 'safe countries'".

"May the dedication (proof of his courage and enthusiasm) with which St. Paul the migrant carried out his mission, inspire the Church and society to find united responses to the challenges present in modern society, so as to promote peaceful coexistence among different ethnic groups, cultures and religions".

St Paul Migrant, Apostle of the Peoples is the theme of the Message, due to be celebrated on 18 January 2009. Excerpts from the text are given below.

"Guided by the Holy Spirit, [St Paul] spared no effort to see that the Gospel ... was proclaimed to all, making no distinction of nationality or culture. ... His life and his preaching were wholly directed to making Jesus known and loved by all, for all persons are called to become a single people in Him.

"This is the mission of the Church and of every baptised person in our time too, even in the era of globalisation; a mission that with attentive pastoral solicitude is also directed to the variegated universe of migrants - students far from home, immigrants, refugees, displaced people, evacuees - including for example, the victims of modern forms of slavery, and of human trafficking. Today too the message of salvation must be presented with the same approach as that of the Apostle to the Gentiles, taking into account the different social and cultural situations and special difficulties of each one as a consequence of his or her condition as a migrant or itinerant person.

"I express the wish that every Christian community may feel the same apostolic zeal as St Paul. ... May his example also be an incentive for us to show solidarity to these brothers and sisters of ours and to promote, in every part of the world and by every means, peaceful coexistence among different races, cultures and religions".

"In reading the Acts of the Apostles and the Letters that Paul addressed to various recipients, we perceive a model of a Church that was not exclusive but on the contrary open to all, formed by believers without distinction of culture or race: every baptised person is, in fact, a living member of the one Body of Christ. In this perspective, fraternal solidarity expressed in daily gestures of sharing, joint participation and joyful concern for others, acquires a unique prominence".

"How can we fail to take charge of all those, particularly refugees and displaced people, who are in conditions of difficulty or hardship? How can we fail to meet the needs of those who are 'de facto' the weakest and most defenceless, marked by precariousness and insecurity, marginalized and often excluded by society? We should give our priority attention to them".

"The World Day for Migrants and Refugees, which will be celebrated on 18 January 2009, must be for all an incentive to live brotherly love to the full without making any kind of distinction and without discrimination, in the conviction that any one who needs us and whom we can help is our neighbour. May the teaching and example of St Paul, a great and humble Apostle and a migrant, an evangeliser of peoples and cultures, spur us to understand that the exercise of charity is the culmination and synthesis of the whole of Christian life".

"Dear brothers and sisters, let us not tire of proclaiming and witnessing to this 'Good News' with enthusiasm, without fear and sparing no energy! The entire Gospel message is condensed in love, and authentic disciples of Christ are recognised by the mutual love their bear one another and by their acceptance of all. May the Apostle Paul and especially Mary, the Mother of acceptance and love, obtain this gift for us".

Source: VIS

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