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Papal message underlines migrants' hope for better future

Catholic World News - October 29, 2012

In his annual message for the World Day of Migrants, Pope Benedict XVI writes that the Church affirms the right of people to migrate, “there is a need to reaffirm the right not to emigrate: that is, to remain in one’s homeland."

The World Day of Migrants is observed each year in January. The Pope’s message for the 2013 observance, entitled "Migrations: Pilgrimage of Faith and Hope," was released by the Vatican on October 29.

In the message the Pope notes that the theme of “faith and hope” reflects the Church’s observance of the Year of Faith, together with the migrants’ hope for a better future. He notes too that many migrants “are sustained by the deep trust that God never abandons his children.”

At a press conference introducing the Pope’s message, Cardinal Antonio Maria Veglio, the president of the Pontifical Council for Migrants, reminded reporters that there are about 214 international migrants in today’s world, and another 740 million people displaced within their own native lands. Thus the world’s total population of migrants approaches 1 billion people, he said.

Pope Benedict, in his message, calls attention to the role that Church agencies play in helping migrants. But he adds that the Church “ought to avoid offering charitable services alone.” The greater challenge, he writes, is to help migrants find acceptance and productive work in their adopted lands.

The Pope’s message reaffirms the right of every sovereign state to establish policies regulating immigration, “dictated by the general requirements of the common good.” At the same time the papal message urges acceptance of migrants and protection of their fundamental human rights. The Pope calls for action to address the problem of “irregular migration, an issue all the more pressing when it takes the form of human trafficking and exploitation, particularly of women and children.”

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