VATICAN CITY, APRIL 29, 2002 ( John Paul II said that immigrants, especially those illegal, must not be abandoned to their fate.

Rather, they deserve assistance from everyone, particularly the Catholic Church, the Pope stressed.

"It is important that immigrants not be deprived of fraternal acceptance and adequate religious assistance, so that they feel that their problems are understood and that they are well received by societies that respect their cultural identity," the Holy Father said.

Addressing members of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers, presided over by Japanese Archbishop Stephen Fumio Hamao, the Holy Father said that "illegal immigrants, whose life is put at risk on board vessels, must not be abandoned to their fate."

"In every situation it will be necessary to ensure more-just conditions of work that respect individual and family needs and, at the same time, efforts must be made to offer them adequate opportunities to cultivate their own faith and religious practice," the Pope explained.

In his address, he also mentioned the opportunities offered today by tourism, and insisted that local peoples who receive tourists must be respected.

"One cannot forget those singular tourist offers of ´artificial paradises´ in which there is abuse of local peoples and cultures for merely commercial interests, to the advantage of a tourism that in certain cases does not even respect the most elementary human rights of the people of the area," the Pope said.

In order to address these challenges, the Holy Father suggested that the Church adopt a pastoral program that will serve "to give good formation to the laity" involved in these sectors, and sensitize Christian communities to the problems of human mobility.