Addressing the participants of the 7th World Congress for the Pastoral Care of Migrants, Pope Francis said that those who migrate aspire to hope for a better future for their families, “even at the risk of disappointment and failure.”
According to a communique by the Holy See Press Office, the three-day Congress highlighted the dynamics of cooperation and development in the pastoral care of migrants.
The Pope said that among the factors that cause migration include, inequality, poverty, overpopulation, wars, persecution, natural disasters and youth unemployment. He also highlighted that while receiving nations” draw advantages from employing immigrants for production needs”, some nations where migrants leave show a reduction in unemployment while benefit from earnings sent back to their families.
“Emigrants, in the end, are able to fulfil the desire for a better future for themselves and their families,” he said.
“Yet we know that some problems also accompany these benefits. We find in the countries of origin, among other things, an impoverishment due to the so-called ‘brain drain’, the effects on infants and young people who grow up without one or both parents, and the risk of marriages failing due to prolonged absences.”
Other problems the Pope noted were difficulties with migrants settling in problematic neighborhoods as well as the difficulties in integrating and learning new social and cultural conventions.
To this end, the Holy Father said that pastoral workers play an important role through dialogue, assistance with legal issues and mediating with the local populations.
“In the countries of origin, on the other hand, the closeness of pastoral workers to the families and children of migrant parents can lessen the negative repercussions of the parents’ absence,” the Pope said.
“The Church promotes pastoral plans for the evangelization and support of migrants throughout their journey from their country of origin, through countries of transit, to the receiving countries. She gives particular attention to meeting the spiritual needs of migrants through catechesis, liturgy and the celebration of the Sacraments.”
The 77 year old Pontiff went on to say that the Church also provides a source of hope for migrants who many times experience disappointment, distress and loneliness.
“When encountering migrants, it is important to adopt an integrated perspective, capable of valuing their potential rather than seeing them only as a problem to be confronted and resolved,” he said.
“The authentic right to development regards every person and all people, viewed integrally. This demands that all people be guaranteed a minimal level of participation in the life of the human community. How much more necessary must this be in the case of the Christian community, where no one is a stranger and, therefore, everyone is worthy of being welcomed and supported.”
Concluding his address, Pope Francis invoked the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph “who themselves experienced the difficulty of exile in Egypt.”