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Refugees, migrants should accept host nation's laws, Pope says

Catholic World News - October 26, 2010

In an age of globalization, all people should be recognized as members of “one human family,” Pope Benedict XVI said in his message for the World Day for Migrants and Refugees.

The Pope’s message urged nations to respect the rights of refugees and migrants, especially those who are fleeing from war or persecution. “At the same time,” he said, “states have the right to regulate migration flows and to defend their own borders.” The Pontiff went on to say that immigrants have “the duty to integrate into the host country, respecting its laws and its national identity.”

The World Day for Migrants and Refugees will be observed on January 16, 2011. The Pope’s message for the occasion was released by the Vatican on October 26.

The Pope’s message sounded several familiar themes, urging governments to recognize the right of migrants to be treated with dignity and respect, and preserved from violence and exploitation. Christian faith, he reminded his readers, requires us to “recognize each other as brothers and sisters in Christ.” Yet his statement was more explicit than other recent Vatican pronouncements in recognizing the right of nations to regulate immigration and the need for immigrants to accept the laws and cultural norms of their host nation.

At a Vatican press conference introducing the Pope’s message, Father Gabriele Bentoglio, the undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for Migrants, noted that there are 15 million refugees in the world today, as well as 27 million others who are “internally displaced”—that is, still living in their native countries, but having been driven out of their homes.

Father Bentoglio remarked that the European nations are not alone in receiving a flood of refugees. He said: “South Africa accepted 220,000 asylum-seekers during the course of last year, almost the same number of people as that accepted by all 27 member States of the European Union together.”

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  • Posted by: Mike in Toronto - Oct. 26, 2010 7:09 PM ET USA

    With the caveat (which perhaps should have been articulated?) that the Pope's remarks re the "duty to [respect] its laws [...]" do not apply to immoral laws, which have no licit demand on anyone.

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