The president of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples, Cardinal Antonio Maria Veglio met with journalists today to present Pope Francis’ message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees. The event will be celebrated on January 19th, 2014 and will reflect on the theme: “Migrants and Refugees: Towards a better world.”
Also present at the press conference was Archbishop Joseph Kalathiparambil and Fr. Gabriele F. Bentoglio, the secretary and the undersecretary of the aforementioned Pontifical Council, respectively.
While explaining the context of the Holy Father’s message, Cardinal Veglio stated that the “phenomenon of human mobility” is fast growing with UN statistics saying that 232 million people live outside their country of origin.
“However, in spite of difficulties and dramatic situations, migration is an invitation to imagine a different future, in which we glimpse the creation of a ‘better world’,” the Cardinal said.
“It is an invitation aimed at the development of all humanity, including each person with his or her own spiritual and cultural potential’. If we accept that culture is an entirety of spiritual, existential and intellectual aspects that distinguish a society, including also ways of life, fundamental rights, value systems, traditions and beliefs, then it will be possible to confirm that the whole of human existence is permeated by attitudes of encounter and welcome,”
Archbishop Kalathiparambil focused on the plight of migrants in today’s world where millions still find themselves living in refugee camps. Many, he also settling in more urban areas where it can be more difficult to “identify and help.”
The secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples highlighted new methods of communication, films on refugees’ rights that are being produced and telephone helplines to offer assistance.
“This is all currently happening in the Middle East, where Syrian refugees are living in refugee camps and, in most cases, in urban areas,” the Archbishop said.
“On the one hand, this is about ensuring a limit to human suffering, and on the other, to protecting and promoting a dignified life, at the same time offering adequate structures, stability and hope for the future. It must be said that there has been an increase in international minimum standards, for instance in relation to availability of food, shelter, education, healthcare, detention and repatriation. Besides, these international standards are of a qualitative nature and are therefore universal and applicable in any context.”
Concluding the presentation, Fr. Bentoglio highlighted the history of the World Day of Migrants and Refugees which began in 1915 during the pontificate of Benedict XV. As time progressed, the pastoral care of migrants took a more universal dimension, particularly during Second Vatican Council II.
“The migrant emerges as a person and as a citizen with rights and duties and, first as a beneficiary of works of Christian charity, the migrant becomes a subject of evangelization, agent of God’s providential plan for the edifying encounter between peoples and the diffusion of the Gospel,” Fr. Bentoglio said.
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For the full text of the Holy Father’s message, go to: