Papal Address to Catholic Migration Commission

«Your Work Grows More Urgent»

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 14, 2001 ( Here is the text of John Paul II´s address Monday to the participants of the meeting of the International Catholic Migration Commission.

* * *

Dear Friends in Christ,

1. I am happy to welcome you, members of the Council of the International Catholic Migration Commission, on the occasion of your Assembly. Your presence here is especially significant, after the tragic events of September 11 forced the cancellation of your meeting in New York; it shows your determination to pursue your vital work in face of every setback. I thank Professor Zamagni for his kind words, and extend a special greeting to the representatives of Migrantes, your partners in the Italian Episcopal Conference. I also greet the Commission´s benefactors, whose contribution is especially important at a time when you are seeking to reduce dependence upon public funding, so that the Commission can operate always as an independent Catholic agency.

2. This year you celebrate your 50th Anniversary, and that is cause for thanksgiving. At the inauguration of the Commission, the future Pope Paul VI declared that its cause was the cause of Christ himself. In these decades, the Commission has not ceased to show to migrant people the face of the Son of Man, who himself had «nowhere to lay his head» (Luke 9:58).

In the time since your foundation, patterns of human migration have changed, but the phenomenon is no less dramatic, and your work grows more urgent as the problem of refugees grows ever more acute. Indeed, now is the time for still more generous and effective forms of service in the field of human migration, helping to ensure that people already marginalized will not be further penalized because they are not a part of the process of economic globalization. Today, therefore, I wish to invite you to an ever deeper awareness of your mission: to see Christ in every brother and sister in need, to proclaim and defend the dignity of every migrant, every displaced person, and every refugee. In this way, assistance given will not be considered alms from the goodness of our heart, but an act of justice due to them.

3. We live in a world in which peoples and cultures are being drawn into ever closer and more complex interaction. Yet, paradoxically, we see greater ethnic, cultural, and religious tensions, which severely affect migrants and refugees, who are especially vulnerable to the prejudice and injustice that often accompany these tensions. That is why the Commission´s advocacy with governments and international organizations, and its promotion of laws and policies to protect the defenseless are especially important aspects of its mission. It is also the reason why it is necessary to continue developing training programs for your personnel, to help them to deepen their understanding of the realities of forced migration and the possibilities for assisting uprooted families, and promoting mutual respect among people of different cultures.

4. Your service is bound by a twofold fidelity: to Christ, the one mediator who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life for the whole human family; and to the Church, which he established as the universal sacrament of salvation. The soul of your work is a vision of human dignity, which is based upon the truth of the human person created in the image of God (cf Genesis 1:26), a truth that illumines the entire Social Teaching of the Church. From this vision there flows a sense of inalienable rights that do not depend on any human power to grant or deny, for they are rights that have their source in God. This is a profoundly religious vision, which is shared not only by other Christians, but also by many followers of the other great religions of the world. That is why the work of the Commission has been such a fruitful point of ecumenical and inter-religious co-operation; and this, too, is a precious achievement in a troubled and divided world. Therefore, as a Catholic International Organization united with the Holy See in the important task of promoting solidarity, I urge you never to grow weary in the search for new modes of ecumenical and inter-religious co-operation, which are now needed more than ever.

Remembering you in my prayers, and entrusting the Commission´s work to the loving protection of Mary, Mother of the Church, I cordially invoke upon you abundant grace and peace in Jesus Christ, «the faithful witness and firstborn from the dead» (Revelation 1:5).

5. Representatives and members of the Migrantes Foundation, whom I cordially greet, are also joined today to the International Catholic Migration Commission. This year that organization, which operates on behalf of the Italian Episcopal Conference, celebrates 50 years since its own establishment. Created for the evangelization and pastoral service of Italians abroad, the Foundation is now committed to support Italian ecclesial structures in the human and spiritual care of immigrants who land in Italy. Fostering dialogue among cultures for a civilization of love and peace, it is called to stimulate in civil society understanding and appreciation of all who arrive in the Peninsula, in a peaceful atmosphere of coexistence, respectful of the rights of the person.

I hope that, through the intercession of Mary Most Holy, this meritorious institution will continue to carry out is valuable work in keeping with the spirit of Christ. My blessing upon all.

[text distributed by Vatican Press Office]

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry


Support ZENIT

If you liked this article, support ZENIT now with a donation