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Pope Francis to the diplomatic corps to the Holy See - Placing people at the centre of migratory policies

2016-01-11 L’Osservatore Romano

In his speech to the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See, Pope Francis dedicated the most significant passages to “the grave crisis of migration which we are facing”. The diplomats had gathered in the Regia Hall on Monday morning, 11 January, for the traditional audience at the beginning of the year. The choice was motivated by the Pope’s wish to help discern the causes of the crisis and “consider possible solutions”, in order to defeat “the inevitable fears associated with this massive and formidable phenomenon”.

As customary, the meeting offered the Pontiff the opportunity for a broad international overview. It was preceded by a meaningful report on the results of the Holy See’s diplomatic efforts in 2015, a year in which the number of ambassadors residing in Rome increased and in which important international agreements were reached. The work found new motivations and perspectives in the “common thread” of mercy indicated by Pope Francis to the Church and to the world with the induction of the extraordinary Jubilee. The Pontiff reaffirmed the need to “to set out anew and resume dialogue” and to reject every attempt to use religion as reason to “kill in the name of God”, as has happened in the recent terrorist attacks in in Africa, Europe and the Middle East.

Turning to current global complexities laden with “challenges” and “more than a few tensions”, the Pope focused attention on the migratory phenomenon in which, he observed, the consequences of the great humanitarian tragedies afflicting the planet have become concentrated: wars, violations of human rights, religious-based persecution, extreme poverty, malnutrition, climate change. All are tragic situations that fuel events of genuine mass exodus, forcing millions of men, women and children to flee their lands in order to escape violence and “unspeakable acts of cruelty towards vulnerable persons”.

“Many of the causes of migration” — Francis realistically observed — “could have been addressed some time ago”. Yet today too, there is much that “could be done to end these tragedies and to build peace”. However, this can be accomplished only if we have the courage to call into question “entrenched habits and practices”, starting with “the arms trade, the provision of raw materials and energy, investment, policies of financing and sustainable development”. According to the Pontiff there is a need for “for mid-term and long-term planning which is not limited to emergency responses”, and which has the twofold intent to provide “effective assistance for integrating migrants in their receiving countries” and to promote “the development of their countries of origin through policies inspired by solidarity”.

While the massive number of arrivals in Europe seem to be overburdening the system of reception, Francis encouraged the Old Continent not to lose “the values and principles of humanity”, while safeguarding the right balance between the “moral responsibility to protect the rights of its citizens” and the need to “ensure assistance and acceptance to migrants”. They in turn have “the responsibility to respect the values, traditions and laws of the community which takes them in”. The Pope expressed particular gratitude to those countries, Italy among them, who have demonstrated generosity to refugees: “It is important”, he stated, “that nations in the forefront of meeting the present emergency not be left alone”.