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Vatican prelate decries US-Mexico border wall November 14, 2006

Cardinal Renato Martino denounced the plan for a border wall between the US and Mexico as an "inhuman program," during a November 14 press conference in Rome.

Cardinal Martino, the president of the Pontifical Council for Migrants, was briefing reporters on a papal statement released for the 93rd World Day for Migrants and Refugees. But the Italian prelate-- who has often made headlines with his public criticisms of US policies-- made his own provocative comments when he lamented that "in a world that greeted the fall of the Berlin Wall with joy, new walls are being built."

Cardinal Martino also said that human trafficking remains a serious international problem, which has become even more widespread in recent years. This practice, he said, is "must more grave that the slavery of the past," with many victims being forced into prostitution or service as child soldiers. The result, he said, is "slavery in a world that calls itself free."

In his remarks on the Pope's statement, which had emphasized consideration for the family, the cardinal observed that immigration often "accentuates the isolation of the members of the family unit." The results are particularly damaging for women, he said.

Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, the secretary of the Pontifical Council for Migrants, called attention to the same problem during the Rome press conference. "The families of refugees must find a warm welcome in their host countries," he said. Consideration for migrant families, he added, is a virtue with "deep roots in Christian tradition."

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