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Lunch with Syrian Refugees © L'Osservatore Romano

Lunch with Syrian Refugees © L'Osservatore Romano

Migrants: Pope Francis Gives “Very Practical” Pointers

Reflection of Father Fabio Baggio

<ROME>, AUGUST 22, 2017 ( Pope Francis gives “very practical” pointers for the reception and integration of migrants, says Father Fabio Baggio, Under-Secretary and ‘Number 3” of the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Dicastery for the Service of Integral Human Development, referring to the Pontiff’s Message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, which will be observed on January 14, 2018, on the theme “Receive, Protect, Promote and Integrate.”

In an interview published on August 21, 2017 by the Italian Catholic Agency SIR, Father Baggio says that the Message gives “very practical pointers,” especially in regard to” legal and safe ways” for all migrants. He addresses “a very clear appeal” for the Church’s engagement, strong in her “good practices.”

The Holy Father stresses the importance of protecting migrants from the start, “offering them all the information necessary to decide if they will depart or not , where to and how to get there”; then in the country of destination, where they can be helped to “remain in a regular situation or to regularize their position.”

The Message also calls for “the recognition of the capacities and competencies of migrants with the validation of study and professional diplomas, so that these persons can offer the best,” “further their education” and be “a contribution and an occasion of development for the countries that receive them,” added the Under-Secretary.

For migrants and refugees it’s not only a question of having a legal “passport” but also of “engaging with a place” or “with a territory.” It’s not about saying to them “You can and you can’t,” but about saying “if you wish, remember that there is a certain responsibility to assume,” specified Father Baggio.

He also mentioned “the fear of invasion” caused by “ignorance of those that knock at the doors.” The priest believes that it’s necessary to “work enormously on education, on the culture of encounter, by providing real data.”

“To go to the other is not necessarily natural: with a child it’s much more present but with an adult there is often a brake because one fears losing something in the encounter with the other,” said the priest. The experience of history “teaches that civilizations are born in fact of the encounter between different peoples when they are open, not when they are closed,” he conclude.

Translation by Virginia Forrester




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