Benedict XVI Urges Support for Emigrants' Spiritual Values

Notes «Regrettable Problem» of Ecuador

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CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, AUG. 29, 2005 ( Benedict XVI encouraged public authorities and the Church to support the human and spiritual values of emigrants.

The Pope particularly addressed what he described as the «regrettable problem» of many Ecuadorians, who see in emigration the only glimmer of hope for the future. He made his comments today when receiving the letters of credence of the country’s new ambassador to the Holy See, Francisco Salazar Alvarado.

The Holy Father thanked the ambassador for the importance the Quito government attributes to this challenge because, he said, «the remoteness of the homeland, due to the legitimate desire to find better conditions of life, carries with it a whole sequence of uncertainties, difficulties and pain for families, especially when young children are left behind.»

«Because of this, in addition to helping them to improve financially, it is necessary to preserve and enhance the rich cultural and religious values that are part of the baggage with which the emigrants left one day,» Benedict XVI said.

In this connection, he said that «the Catholic Church offers its assiduous collaboration without reservations.»

2 million abroad

Among Ecuadorians’ values, the Pontiff highlighted the Catholic faith, especially their devotion to the Mother of God, and their particular affection for the image of the Mother of Sorrows.

The urgency of thousands of Ecuadorians to escape from the economic crisis that afflicts their homeland became evident in mid-August with the disappearance of up to 104 emigrants who were traveling in a small vessel to Guatemala. The vessel sunk off Colombia. The passengers were ultimately bound for the United States.

Organizations for the defense of human rights reported that more than 400,000 people have left Ecuador over the last two years. Official statistics confirm that there are 2 million Ecuadorians living outside their homeland of 13.3 million. Their main destinations are the United States, Spain and Italy.

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