Pastoral Congress Urges Ratification of Convention on Migrant Workers' Rights

Vatican-Organized Event Issues Its Final Statement

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 25, 2003 ( The 5th World Congress on the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Refugees ended with a call for countries to ratify the U.N. convention on the rights of migrant workers and their families.

It is «a category that certainly has material needs but, above all, spiritual» needs, Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, the secretary of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers, told Vatican Radio. The council organized the congress, which ended Saturday.

The congress decided «to revise the pastoral program of human mobility applied to the reality of migration and political asylum,» the archbishop said.

He confirmed that the congress’ final document includes «an appeal to civil society, and to migrants themselves — a request for legality and the acceptance of the cultural identity of the host country — and finally an appeal to state governments.»

«This part emphasizes the need to accept, in the sense of respect for human rights, those who come from other countries, especially from states at war or marked by violence, oppression, or lack of freedom,» the archbishop explained.

«Although it acknowledges that states have the right to regulate migratory currents, an appeal is also made that they not take advantage of the circumstance of international terrorism to violate our brothers’ human rights, whether they are refugees or migrants,» he said.

The responsibility and duties of the Church vis-à-vis migrants and refugees are included in the document, which highlights the fact that massive exodus, whether voluntary or forced, is a «sign of the times» and specific terrain «of the new evangelization,» Archbishop Marchetto said.

The congress also proposed that the Pope dedicate an encyclical to the phenomenon of human mobility, he added.

The Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers already is preparing a document on pastoral care in this field. The document will seek to respond to «present challenges given the presence of Christians of other Churches, in addition to greatly stressing not only the aspect of dialogue and integration but also of ‘missionizing,'» the archbishop said.

The U.N. convention on the rights of migrant workers and their families was first approved by the General Assembly in 1990.

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