Families With Greatest Challenges: Immigrants

Pontifical Council Secretary Addresses World Meeting

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MEXICO CITY, JAN. 16, 2009 (Zenit.org).- A globalized world characterized by frequent migration poses "new challenges and innumerable difficulties" for families, says a Vatican official.

Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers, affirmed this in an address Thursday to the some 10,000 participants in the theological congress of the 6th World Meeting of Families. The world meeting runs through Sunday in Mexico City.

"Unfortunately, in a world that celebrated with joy the fall of the Berlin Wall, other walls are being erected between neighborhoods, dividing one city from another, and between nations," the archbishop lamented. He noted how Benedict XVI points to the Holy Family in exile in Egypt as a model for migrant families.

The Vatican official considered a papal message for migrant families, which went through a list of internal and external situations that these families have to face: the disappointment of those seeking "a land full of happiness" but finding instead, upon their arrival, the traps of corruption, crime and prostitution.

The prelate went on to consider a list of difficulties faced by migrants and, particularly, by their families. And in such a context, he affirmed, it is to be expected that many immigrants live with a series of "defense mechanisms."

Archbishop Marchetto noted how there is less understanding and sympathy for refugees now, and in general the attitude of society is to see them almost as a threat or a political nuisance, regardless of their values and the potential contribution they can make in their host country.

"Civil society and Christian communities are therefore challenged by these complex issues and challenges," he emphasized.

"In the heart of every man ... is expressed the deep restlessness proper to his condition as Homo Viator [pilgrim man]," Archbishop Marchetto stated. "The thirst for new horizons is notable; the radical certainty is demonstrated that only in the infinity of God is the goal of existence reached."