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Catholic World News News Feature

Papal statement for World Day for Migrants November 14, 2006

Pope Benedict XVI urged new efforts to help 2nd-generation immigrants blend into the social life of their adopted countries, in his message for the 93rd World Day for Migrants and Refugees.

The Pope's message called for the ratification of international agreements on the rights of migrants and refugees. At the same time he noted that immigrants have duties toward the countries in which they have newly arrived.

The World Day for Migrants and Refugees will be observed on January 14, 2007. The Pope's statement for the occasion, dated October 18, was introduced to the media at a news conference in Rome on November 14. The full text of the papal message is available on the Vatican web site.

While noting that a good deal has been done by international leaders to help immigrants, the Holy Father writes that much more needs to be done-- on the legislative, juridical, and social levels-- to help integrate families into new societies. Special efforts are required to help women, he said, since they account for a rising number of immigrants and are subject to special risks of exploitation.

In thinking of how immigration affects the family, the Pope offered the example of the Holy Family in the flight into Egypt. That flight, he said, offers a model of "the painful condition in which all immigrants live." Moreover, the Pope said, "The family of Nazareth reflects the image of God safeguarded in the heart of every human family, even if disfigured and weakened by emigration."

Immigrant families have special needs, having been cut loose from their social roots and familiar backgrounds, the Pope's message points out. Many families are scarred by persecution, abuse, exploitation, or other tragedies that drove them from their homes or occurred during their flight. Pope Benedict said that the annual World Day should be an occasion to remind church groups of the needs that immigrants face, and the good work that can be done on their behalf.

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