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Vatican cardinal calls for greater openness to refugees

July 05, 2013

The president of the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People expressed hope that Pope Francis’s upcoming visit to the island of Lampedusa will lead to greater compassion for refugees.

Writing in L’Osservatore Romano, Cardinal Antonio Maria Vegliò said that “Lampedusa is just one of many points of convergence around the globe where different worlds meet. The vast range of refugees’ routes extends to include those in boats who make their way to Australia, Yemen, Italy or Malta; by truck crossing the Sahara desert to the north; on foot crossing through the desert from Mexico to the United States.”

“Christ is present on the island in those who have arrived, but also in the local population that welcomes them,” Cardinal Vegliò continued after he cited the Pope’s recent statement that the flesh of refugees “is the flesh of Christ.” The cardinal said that “as everywhere in the world, likewise in Lampedusa the challenges are addressed by the local people, who are sometimes overwhelmed and must accommodate large numbers of unexpected newcomers.”

“The refugees and asylum seekers must be guaranteed of their respective rights,” he added. “Since they have the right to flee for their lives, they should also be granted the right to access asylum in the host country. In addition, all other rights to protection should be applied for them. The right to freedom of movement and the right to work must be applied and extended further.”


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