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Pope Francis discusses duties to migrants, refugees

February 21, 2017

In an address on migration, Pope Francis discussed how the political community, civil society, and the Church ought to react to the phenomenon of mass migration, especially forced migration.

The Pope made his remarks to participants in 6th International Forum on Migration and Peace, organize by the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, the Scalabrini International Migration Network, and the Konrad Adenaeuer Foundation.

“Unfortunately, in the majority of cases this movement [migration] is forced, caused by conflict, natural disasters, persecution, climate change, violence, extreme poverty and inhumane living conditions,” the Pope said on February 21 in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace.

The proper response to migration, the Pope said, is fourfold: “to welcome,” “to protect,” “to promote,” and “to integrate.”

In the face of a climate of rejection of migrants, “rooted ultimately in self-centredness and amplified by populist rhetoric, what is needed is a change of attitude, to overcome indifference and to counter fears with a generous approach of welcoming those who knock at our doors,” the Pope said.

After discussing welcoming, protecting, promoting, and integrating refugees and migrants, the Pope described this response as a “duty of justice,” a “duty of civility,” and a “duty of solidarity.”

“We can no longer sustain unacceptable economic inequality, which prevents us from applying the principle of the universal destination of the earth’s goods,” the Pope said in his comments on justice. “We are all called to undertake processes of apportionment which are respectful, responsible and inspired by the precepts of distributive justice.”

He added:

One group of individuals cannot control half of the world’s resources. We cannot allow for persons and entire peoples to have a right only to gather the remaining crumbs. Nor can we be indifferent or think ourselves dispensed from the moral imperatives which flow from a joint responsibility to care for the planet... This joint responsibility must be interpreted in accord with the principle of subsidiarity.


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Show 4 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: space15796 - Feb. 22, 2017 1:04 AM ET USA

    What is the proper response to immigrants who state openly they have no intention of assimilating, no desire to be integrated into their new home? Rather they seek to force their world view on their hosts? A world view that is antithetical to Christianity? What then? Does our responsibility change?

  • Posted by: space15796 - Feb. 22, 2017 12:54 AM ET USA

    Someone tell me please: which of the world's migrating populations have fled their native lands because of climate change? It is theorized that the Bronze Age ended and populations migrated due to climate change and the ensuing crop collapses and famine. That was 33 centuries ago, and remains a theory. Today we don't see "forced migrantion" of refugees fleeing rising seas or warmer temps. Why must he insert such nonsense?

  • Posted by: jalsardl5053 - Feb. 21, 2017 8:48 PM ET USA

    Repeating myself the Pope gets it half right: the other proper response is for migrants to be grateful for their welcome and to respect the laws and rights of any host country-"duty of respect" "duty of law abiding citizens" "duty to learn the language" "duty to defend". It's a two way street. And I have yet to hear the Pope chastise the policies and politics of the host countries that drive their populations away.

  • Posted by: Lucius49 - Feb. 21, 2017 3:54 PM ET USA

    Given Islamic terrorism and ISIS you can't speak about migration in general. You need to look at the moral circumstances surrounding a migration in evaluating moral judgments. In that sense the Pope is not dealing with the total reality of migration. Climate change causing migrations? Please Holy Father cite an example of this. I suspect the climate change is simply a papal ideological a priori rather than anything factual.