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Holy See on Migration Urges Welcome, Protect, Promote, Integrate

Father Michael Czerny Talk at Social Forum of Migrations

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The eighth edition of the Social Forum of Migrations took place in Mexico City from November 2-4, 2018. The Forum, born in 2001, is an initiative geared to research and the building of a fair and caring society for a world of greater solidarity. Taking part in the opening of the works are H.E. Carlos Aguiar Retes, Archbishop of Mexico and H.E. Archbishop Franco Coppola, Apostolic Nuncio in Mexico. Also attending the meeting is Father Michael Czerny, S.J., Under-Secretary of the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Dicastery for Integral Human Development.
Here is a ZENIT translation of the presentation by Fr. Czerny:
Eighth World Social Forum of Migrants (WSFM)
Tlaltelolco Mexico, D.F.
The Efforts and Collaboration of All
 Michael Czerny S.J.
 Eminence and Excellency,
Dear Migrant Friends,
Dear Friends of Migrants:
I wish to give vibrant expression to Pope Francis’ message, by showing a brief video, which was presented for the first time in early December 2017, at the International Conference of Puerto Vallarta.[1]

The Holy Father’s words refer us, inevitably, to the reality of the “Migrant Caravan,” which at this moment is here, in Mexico, and, that as many other human flows in the world, is a manifestation of the desperation, of the crisis of an economic and political model, which obliges thousands of human beings to flee from their land, assuming the vulnerability that being a migrant implies. Vulnerable migrants are a priority for the Church.
The Vatican’s position in regard to migration, and Pope Francis, in particular, is of the greatest transcendence for the WSFM. In face of the critical situation that millions of migrants in the world are going through, it’s important to boost a scheme of global governance of migrations that fosters human security and human rights in face of the prevailing schemes of securitization and criminalization.
In keeping with Pope Francis’ four verbs: welcome, protect, promote and integrate, all migrants must be guaranteed fitting treatment, avoiding any ideological-political use of the needs of the poor that emigrate or of the migrants that arrive.
This biblical text resonates in a special way: “The stranger that sojourns with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Leviticus 19:33-34).
From the beginning of the Global Pacts, the Church has desired clearly that the responsibility of the global and shared management of international migration, find a point of strength in the values of justice, solidarity, and compassion. Therefore, a change of mentality is needed: to pass from considering the other as a threat to our comfort and appreciate him as someone who, with his experience of life and his values, can bring much and contribute to the richness of our society.
As the Holy Father said, “In face of today’s migratory challenges, the only honest answer is that of solidarity and mercy; an answer that doesn’t do too many calculations but calls for an equitable division of responsibilities, an honest and sincere analysis of the alternatives and sensible management. A just policy is one that is at the service of the persons, of all affected persons, which provides adequate solutions to guarantee security, respect of the rights and the dignity of all, which is able to look at the good of one’s country taking into account the good of the other countries, in an ever more inter-connected world.”[2]
To put into practice the four verbs in all realms, the Migrants and Refugees Section (M&R) has developed 20 Points of Action as concrete paths. They are offered to governments and institutions as considerations to be taken into account. They don’t exhaust the teachings of the Church on migrants and refugees, but offer useful considerations, for Catholics and others, in their dialogue and their advocacy with governments and in all efforts that leads to make them a reality. Approved by the Holy Father, the 20 Points have been formally presented to the United Nations as the Holy See’ official contribution to the negotiations of the Global Pact of Migrations (GPM).[3]
Both the structure as well as the dispositions of the text of the GPM are co-related positively with the focus and the proposals of the 20 Points. At least 15 of the 20 Points are reflected in the GPM. Both documents have a common focus: the precise affirmation of a principle and a valuable objective, followed by various good implementation practices and options.
Pope Francis points out eloquently: “on the question of migration numbers are not only at stake, but persons, with their history, their culture, their sentiments, their aspirations . . . they need continuous protection, regardless of the migratory status they have.” They need answers, actions, and programs that[4] are adequate, concrete and human.
The GPM offers a non-binding but real and enabling, ample, varied program based on universal ethical principles, which almost all States will adopt on December 10 and 11 in Morocco. This plan can be a pretext for organizations of the civil society, popular organizations, organizations of religious inspiration and NGOs to collaborate among themselves, dialogue and have influence with national, regional and local Authorities. I consider it important to know the GPM with its 23 objectives to appreciate its proposals. These points can be used to make a critical revision of the laws and government programs and of the proposals and programs of the civil society, the Church included.
The GPM is not a legally binding agreement or treaty. It’s a political agreement that respects the national sovereignty of each State. It’s a cooperative framework[5] that establishes norms based on the present policies and practices of its signatories. It should serve as a common denominator. The States can go beyond, but they should at least consider it as the minimum of what is expected, normatively, even if they choose not to follow it. What is most important is that States can no longer consider migration only from their own perspective, but they must situate their preoccupations within the sum of the different managements of migration at the international level. Neither can they feign ignorance or confusion regarding the norms agreed at the global level with respect to the policies of migration.
Throughout the negotiations, Archbishop Auza worked for the recognition of the principle of non-devolution, stressing that no one should “fall through the cracks.” The principle is affirmed, although the end is not included (see paragraph 37).[6]
We coincide with the GPM in fomenting the reinforcement and improvement of protection for migrants regardless of their migratory status and protect their human rights, especially those of children and persons in vulnerable situations. The Holy See and other Delegations urged that the unity of the family is one of the main criteria in the individual assessment of each migrant.[7] Children must never be detained, and the practice must be eliminated because alternatives exist that must be adopted.
We find in the already mentioned plan, a harmony in pushing concrete actions, to advance in cooperation in the matter of labor migration, mobility of skills and legal ways. We also coincide in attention to the relation between climate change and international migration, with sudden disasters and the beginning of climate change seen as driving forces of migration.
To support and implement the new global agenda on migrations, the GPM  institutionalizes a framework that includes a Council, periodic revisions and mechanisms for the creation of skills.
The GPM expresses a mutual, negotiated consensus. It shows the positive disposition of governments to collaborate in the resolution of the most urgent needs of migrants in each stage, from the departure and the transit to the arrival, integration and the eventual return.
The GPM could contribute to improving the urgent collaboration between countries to make migration less dangerous, safer, more beneficial and less costly for those that migrate, as well as for the communities that receive them.[8]
The time to evaluate, revise and improve the GPM will come in five years — the moment of making it an instrument that contributes to our answers is today.
Pope Francis pointed out that the GPM must be inspired by compassion, vision of the future and courage.” No plan without us will be capable of that[9] content.
There are in all of you histories, experiences of encounters on the way, a way that thousands of men and women follow seeking life. There are experiences of discovering Jesus’ face in the migrant man, woman, youth, <and> child. “I was a stranger and you welcomed me” (Matthew 25:35). There are experiences of feeling oneself the hands of Christ capable of welcoming, protecting, promoting and integrating; they are together with other women and men, the human answer, the Christian answer, which can be the possibility of endowing this and many other plans with efficacy and humanity.
May this Forum be a motive of inspiration for creativity, compassion, vision of the future and courage in all the efforts and initiatives in favor of men and women migrants.
Likewise, the Migrants and Refugees Section renews the commitment to work with you, so that the Church is a Home and Mother for all, living her catholicity as the fulfillment of the will of Christ for His disciples: “that they may all be one” (John 17:21).
[1] (3.5 minutes)
Section Migrants and Refugees/ Integral Human Development / Palazzo San Calisto/ 00120 Vatican City
Tel. +29 06 698 87376 /
[2] Pope Francis, Homily during the Holy Mass for Migrants, St. Peter’s Basilica, 6.7.2028.
[3] Fabio Baggio CS “The Church’s Commitment Towards the Global Compacts,” in the Meeting with the Diplomatic Corps Residing in Rome, “The Holy See in the Preparatory Processes of the Global Compacts,” 19.10.2018–_curia/secretariat_state/2018/documents/rc-seg-st
20181019 _meeting-diplomatici-baggio_en.html. The document “20 points of action for the Global Pacts” can be downloaded from the Webpage of the Migrants and Refugees Section:
[4] Pope Francis, Message on the Occasion of the “Second Holy See-Mexico Colloquium on International Migration,” 14.06.2018.
[5] Anne Gallagher writes that the GPM isn’t a threat to national sovereignty en “Three Reasons All Countries Should Embrace the Global Compact for Migration,” 22.8.2018.
[6] Bernardito Auza, General Remarks, First Round of the Inter-Governmental Negotiations on the Global Compact on Migration: Preamble, Vision and Guiding Principles, New York, 20.02.2018.
[7] Fabio BaggioC.S., “Family and Migration in the 20 Action Points for the Global Compacts,” Side-Event on “Family and Migration,” Geneva, 25.09.2018.
[8] Anne Gallagher writes that the GPM will benefit all countries directly in “Three Reasons All Countries Should Embrace the Global Compact on Migration,” 22.8.2018.
[9] Pope Francis, Message for the Celebration of the World Day of Peace, January 1, 2018.
Translation by Virginia M. Forrester

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