Monday, September 1, 2008

Pope Speaks Out On Migration Emergency

70 Illegal Immigrants Die Off Maltese Coast

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, AUG. 31, 2008 ( ).- Migration has become an emergency in our times, and one that demands solidarity and effective political solutions, says Benedict XVI.

The Pope said this today as he commented on the deaths this week of some 70 would-be immigrants off the coast of Malta, said to be one of the worst such incidents recorded in the country.

According to news reports, 78 would-be illegal African immigrants set sail from Libya on Aug. 21. The small boat found itself in the middle of a storm and capsized. Maltese fishermen rescued eight survivors on Tuesday.

Authorities have found only three bodies, but according to the survivors, four women are among the dead, including three who were pregnant.

After reciting the midday Angelus with several thousand people gathered in the courtyard of the papal summer residence at Castel Gandolfo, the Holy Father said the tragedy "seemed to surpass previous incidents in terms of the number of victims."


"Migration is a phenomenon that has been present from the dawn of human history, and it has always, for this reason, characterized the relations between peoples and nations," he said. "The emergency that migration has become in our times, nevertheless, calls out to us and, while it solicits our solidarity, demands, at the same time, effective political answers."

The Pontiff applauded the humanitarian work of various regional, national and international institutions that are addressing the problem of irregular migration.

He also called on the countries of original to "show a sense of responsibility" and to work to "remove the causes of irregular migration and cut off at the root all of the forms of criminality that are linked to these causes."

Benedict XVI continued: "For their part, European countries, and all other countries that are the destination of immigration, are called to, among other things, develop through consensus initiatives and structures that continue to adapt themselves to the needs of irregular migrants.

"The latter must be made aware, on the one hand, of the value of their own lives, which are a singular good, always precious, that should be safeguarded in the face of the grave risks that the pursuit of better situations exposes them to and, on the other hand, the duty of legality that is imposed on all."

"As the [Pope]," he added, "I feel a profound obligation to recall everyone’s attention to this problem and to ask for the generous cooperation of individuals and institutions to deal with it and to find solutions."

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