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“Offer Broader Options To Enter Countries Safely And Legally

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“Offer Broader Options To Enter Countries Safely And Legally

Pope Francis calls to “offer broader options for migrants and refugees to enter destination countries safely and legally.

The Vatican published on Monday, August 21, 2017 the Pope”€™s message for the 104th World Day of Migrants and Refugees, which will be celebrated on January 14th 2018.  “€œWelcoming, protecting, promoting and integrating migrants and refugees,”€ is the theme of the letter, which he wrote August 15, 2017, the Solemnity of the Assumption of the B.V. Mary

“€œThroughout the first years of my pontificate, I have repeatedly expressed my particular concern for the lamentable situation of many migrants and refugees fleeing from war, persecution, natural disasters and poverty,”€ the Hoy Father said. “€œThis situation is undoubtedly a “€˜sign of the times,”€™ which I have tried to interpret, with the help of the Holy Spirit, ever since my visit to Lampedusa on 8 July 2013.  When I instituted the new Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, I wanted a particular section “€“ under my personal direction for the time being “€“ to express the Church”€™s concern for migrants, displaced people, refugees and victims of human trafficking.”€

Pope Francis said that responding to the needs of refugees is an opportunity to evangelize: “€œEvery stranger who knocks at our door is an opportunity for an encounter with Jesus Christ, who identifies with the welcomed and rejected strangers of every age”€¦This is a great responsibility, which the Church intends to share with all believers and men and women of good will, who are called to respond to the many challenges of contemporary migration with generosity, promptness, wisdom and foresight, each according to their own abilities.”€

The Holy Father repeated the four elements of a shared response to the needs of migrants, which he outlined in his Address to Participants in the International Forum on “€œMigration and Peace”€, 21 February 21, 2017.   He described these elements with four verbs:

To Welcome:”€¦”€œabove all, offering broader options for migrants and refugees to enter destination countries safely and legally.  This calls for a concrete commitment to increase and simplify the process for granting humanitarian visas and for reunifying families.  At the same time, I hope that a greater number of countries will adopt private and community sponsorship programs, and open humanitarian corridors for particularly vulnerable refugees.  Furthermore, special temporary visas should be granted to people fleeing conflicts in neighboring countries.  Collective and arbitrary expulsions of migrants and refugees are not suitable solutions, particularly where people are returned to countries which cannot guarantee respect for human dignity and fundamental rights.”€

To Protect:”€¦”€œmay be understood as a series of steps intended to defend the rights and dignity of migrants and refugees, independent of their legal status. Such protection begins in the country of origin, and consists in offering reliable and verified information before departure, and in providing safety from illegal recruitment practices. This must be ongoing, as far as possible, in the country of migration, 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.”€

To Promote:…”€œmeans a determined effort to ensure that all migrants and refugees “€“ as well as the communities which welcome them “€“ are empowered to achieve their potential as human beings, in all the dimensions which constitute the humanity intended by the Creator. Among these, we must recognize the true value of the religious dimension, ensuring to all foreigners in any country the freedom of religious belief and practice. Many migrants and refugees have abilities which must be appropriately recognized and valued.”€

“€œTo Integrate:”€¦concerns the opportunities for intercultural enrichment brought about by the presence of migrants and refugees.  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”€.

Pope Francis also cited action by the United Nations:

“€œAt 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.”€

Read Entire Letter Here


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