Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin on March 6, 2018, recalled the words of Pope Francis: “a change of attitude towards migrants and refugees is needed on the part of everyone, moving away from attitudes of defensiveness and fear, indifference and marginalization – all typical of a throwaway culture – towards attitudes based on a culture of encounter, the only culture capable of building a better, more just and fraternal world.”(Message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, 2014).
The Cardinal made his assertion in an address to the Plenary Assembly of the International Catholic Commission for Migration (ICMC), taking place in Rome March 6-8, 2018. He stressed that it is a “crucial moment” for the ICMC to provide “effective answers to new questions and to consider the most appropriate contemporary way for it to carry out its commitment in situations of migration.”
Cardinal Parolin recalled that the ICMC was created by Pope Pius XII in the wake of World War II to help deal with the massive displacement of refugees. He spoke favorably of the group’s efforts, noting that it now works closely with the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.
Again citing the words of the Holy Father, the secretary of state reminded the group that migrants “are not numbers: they are people, women, men, children, who have a face, who often suffer and are discarded. A human face in which we recognize that of Christ, whom we want to serve especially in the smallest and those in need.”
He went on to stress the importance of helping migrant families, both those who have moved and those who remain in the country of origin. And he pointed out that in today’s world, migration has become more than emergency, it “has become a characteristic element of our societies.”
“One of the purposes for which the ICMC was created is to support migrant families, who often emigrate in search of safety and a dignified life, especially for their children.,” Cardinal Paroline continued. “Many of these, however, reach their point of arrival having experienced violence and abuse on the journey, only to then face new experiences of misery and previously unthinkable difficulties. The closeness of the Christian community and the tangible and specialized help of organizations such as yours can help to keep these families together and so prevent children from seeking the answer to their frustrations in alternative networks.”