Tuesday, October 26, 2010



VATICAN CITY, 26 OCT 2010 (VIS) - In the Holy See Press Office this morning a press conference was held to present the Message of the Holy Father for the ninety-seventh World Day of Migrants and Refugees, which is due to be celebrated on 16 January 2011.

Participating in today's conference were Archbishop Antonio Maria Veglio, president of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples, and Fr. Gabriele Bentoglio C.S., under secretary of the same dicastery.

Archbishop Antonio Maria Veglio began: "The relations established between migrants (both individuals and groups) and their host society may be schematised in the following terms: (1) Assimilation or absorption, which translates into conformity to social mechanisms and leads to 'deculturalisation' or 'depersonalisation'. (2) Ghettoising, which implies closure, self-defence and resistance in the face of exclusion, rejection of the surrounding society, marginalisation and discrimination, all of which nourish mutual aggression and hostility. (3) Syncretism, or the 'melting pot', which finds expression in the fusion of various cultural models and the loss of specific cultural identity. (4) Cultural pluralism, which accompanies cultures and seems to arise as a reaction to the one-dimensional character of the local culture that tends to suborn cultural models to those of production and consumption".

To these classic models "we may add 'social integration' accompanied by 'cultural synthesis'", said the archbishop. "This leads, on the one hand, to a dynamic process (the reciprocity of the exchange) and, on the other, to a form of social integration which presupposes participation to create and transform social relationships. .. This is the only process that can lead to successful multiculturalism, and only this process allows groups of immigrants to create a 'new culture', the beneficiary of which will be society as a whole".

"In the context of this presentation, we should recall that the United Nations declared 2010 as the 'International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures', ... with the aim of reiterating the idea of the pluralism of humanity and the interaction between cultural diversity and inter-cultural dialogue. Thus, the Holy Father's Message also reinforces the international community's perception of the importance of dialogue and promotes the recognition of human rights for everyone, combating new forms of racism and discrimination".

For his part, Fr. Bentoglio affirmed that there are "currently fifteen million refugees" in the world, and that "the number of internally displaced persons, above all as relates to cases of violation of human rights, stands at around twenty-seven million".

"The challenge", he said, "consists in creating areas of tolerance, hope, healing and protection, and in ensuring that these dramas and tragedies - too often experienced in the past and in the present - never happen again". In this context, he highlighted how the objective is "to guarantee refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced persons are given the concrete possibility to develop their human potential".

The under secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples indicated that "welcome begins with empathy; that is, with the effort to understand the other's feelings and to understand how it feels to find oneself in an unknown world with different customs and traditions".

He then went on to highlight that the problem is not limited to Europe alone, pointing out that "South Africa accepted 220 thousand asylum seekers during the course of last year, almost the same number of people as that accepted by all twenty-seven member States of the European Union together".

The behaviour of countries, said Fr. Bentoglio, "is often dictated by fear of foreigners and, not infrequently, by veiled discrimination" thus "eluding their responsibility to welcome and support people who seek refuge and humanitarian protection".

"It seems certain that refugees and asylum seekers today suffer worse conditions than they did in the past, also in the host countries in the South of the planet". This "begs the question: what does it mean to live for years in an overcrowded camp with no hope of a better life, or to see no future for one's children? Thus, it often happens that people abandon the camp and move to urban conurbations in the hope of rebuilding a life for themselves, and that they do so without requesting the necessary authorisation and thus violate the law".

"It is necessary to offer some hope for the future", the under secretary of the dicastery concluded. "For her part, the Church is seeking to respond to this question, as her efforts and activities clearly show".

OP/ VIS 20101026 (760)


VATICAN CITY, 26 OCT 2010 (VIS) - "One human family" is the theme chosen by the Holy Father for the ninety-seventh World Day of Migrants and Refugees, which is due to be celebrated on 16 January 2011.

Some extracts from the English-language translation of the Pope's Message are given below:

"The World Day of Migrants and Refugees offers the whole Church an opportunity to reflect on a theme linked to the growing phenomenon of migration, to pray that hearts may open to Christian welcome and to the effort to increase in the world justice and charity, pillars on which to build an authentic and lasting peace. 'As I have loved you, so you also should love one another', is the invitation that the Lord forcefully addresses to us and renews constantly: if the Father calls us to be beloved children in His dearly beloved Son, He also calls us to recognise each other as brothers and sisters in Christ.

"This profound link between all human beings is the origin of the theme that I have chosen for our reflection this year: 'One human family', one family of brothers and sisters in societies that are becoming ever more multiethnic and intercultural, where people of various religions are also urged to take part in dialogue, so that a serene and fruitful coexistence with respect for legitimate differences may be found".

"The road is the same, that of life, but the situations that we pass through on this route are different: many people have to face the difficult experience of migration in its various forms: ... In various cases the departure from their country is motivated by different forms of persecution, so that escape becomes necessary. Moreover, the phenomenon of globalisation itself, characteristic of our epoch, is not only a social and economic process, but also entails 'humanity itself [that] is becoming increasingly interconnected', crossing geographical and cultural boundaries. In this regard, the Church does not cease to recall that the deep sense of this epochal process and its fundamental ethical criterion are given by the unity of the human family and its development towards what is good. All, therefore, belong to one family, migrants and the local populations that welcome them, and all have the same right to enjoy the goods of the earth whose destination is universal, as the social doctrine of the Church teaches. It is here that solidarity and sharing are founded".

"This is also the perspective with which to look at the reality of migration. In fact, as the Servant of God Paul VI formerly noted, 'the weakening of brotherly ties between individuals and nations', is a profound cause of underdevelopment and - we may add - has a major impact on the migration phenomenon".

"Venerable John Paul II, on the occasion of this same Day celebrated in 2001, emphasised that '[the universal common good] includes the whole family of peoples, beyond every nationalistic egoism. The right to emigrate must be considered in this context. The Church recognises this right in every human person, in its dual aspect of the possibility to leave one's country and the possibility to enter another country to look for better conditions of life'.

"At the same time, States have the right to regulate migration flows and to defend their own frontiers, always guaranteeing the respect due to the dignity of each and every human person. Immigrants, moreover, have the duty to integrate into the host country, respecting its laws and its national identity".

"In this context, the presence of the Church, as the People of God journeying through history among all the other peoples, is a source of trust and hope. ... Through the action within her of the Holy Spirit, 'the effort to establish a universal brotherhood is not a hopeless one'. It is the Holy Eucharist in particular that constitutes, in the heart of the Church, an inexhaustible source of communion for the whole of humanity. It is thanks to this that the People of God includes 'every nation, race, people, and tongue', not with a sort of sacred power but with the superior service of charity".

"The situation of refugees and of the other forced migrants, who are an important part of the migration phenomenon, should be specifically considered in the light of the theme 'One human family'. ... Respect of their rights, as well as the legitimate concern for security and social coherence, foster a stable and harmonious coexistence. ... This means that those who are forced to leave their homes or their country will be helped to find a place where they may live in peace and safety, where they may work and take on the rights and duties that exist in the country that welcomes them, contributing to the common good and without forgetting the religious dimension of life.

"Lastly, I would like to address a special thought, again accompanied by prayer, to foreign and international students. ... They are also a socially important category in view of their return, as future leaders, to their countries of origin. They constitute cultural and economic 'bridges' between these countries and the host countries. ... This is the conviction that must support the commitment to foreign students and must accompany attention to their practical problems, such as financial difficulties or the hardship of feeling alone in facing a very different social and university context, as well as the difficulties of integration".

"The world of migrants is vast and diversified. It knows wonderful and promising experiences, as well as, unfortunately, so many others that are tragic and unworthy of the human being and of societies that claim to be civil. For the Church this reality constitutes an eloquent sign of our times which further highlights humanity's vocation to form one family, and, at the same time, the difficulties which, instead of uniting it, divide it and tear it apart. Let us not lose hope and let us together pray God, the Father of all, to help us ... to be men and women capable of brotherly relationships and, at the social, political and institutional levels, so that understanding and reciprocal esteem among peoples and cultures may increase"

MESS/ VIS 20101026 (1040)

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