Immigrants Must Not Be Seen As Competitors, Pope Says

Those Who Emigrate Must Respect the Laws of the State That Welcomes Them

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VATICAN CITY, NOVEMBER 17, 2002 ( John Paul II appealed for a «spirit of acceptance» towards immigrants, and for emigrants to respect the laws of the country welcoming them.

John Paul II made this appeal during his meeting with the pilgrims gathered in a rainy St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican, on the day that the Catholic Church in Italy celebrates the Day of Migrations, an «important and complex social phenomenon,» he said.

«We live at a time of profound changes that affect persons, ethnic groups, and peoples. Grave inequalities are noted also today, especially between the north and south of the world,» the Holy Father continued.

«This makes the earth, increasingly becoming a ‘global village,’ be unfortunately for some a place of poverty and privations, while there is great concentration of wealth in the hands of others,» the Pope said.

«In this context, the ‘other’ risks being considered frequently as a competitor, especially if he is ‘different,’ due to language, nationality, and culture,» John Paul II added.

«Because of this, it is important that the spirit of acceptance be diffused, translated in social conduct of care, especially for the needy. Everyone is called to contribute to the improvement of the world, beginning in one’s own ambit of life and action,» he said.

In particular, the Pope appealed to «families, associations, ecclesial and civil communities» to become «more and more schools of hospitality, of civil coexistence, of fruitful dialogue.»

«As for immigrants, they must know how to respect the laws of the state that has welcomed them and thus contribute to a better integration in the new social context.»

«In welcoming every man in Christ,» the Pope explained, «God made himself an ‘emigrant’ in the paths of time to take the Gospel of love and peace to all. In contemplating this mystery, how can one not open oneself to welcome and recognize that every human being is a son of the one heavenly Father and, therefore, is our brother?»

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