Migrant Families Need Help Integrating, Says Pope

In Message for a World Day

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 14, 2006 (Zenit.org).- In his message for the 93rd World Day of Migrants and Refugees, Benedict XVI calls for measures that will facilitate the integration of migrant families.



"The Migrant Family" is in fact the topic to which the Pope dedicates his message on this occasion.

The message, published today by the Holy See, begins by recalling the drama of the Family of Nazareth that, like millions of others today, fled to a foreign country, Egypt, to escape persecution at home.

In his message, the Holy Father underlines further "the commitment of the Church not only in favor of the individual migrant, but also of his family, which is a place and resource of the culture of life and a factor for the integration of values."

"The migrant's family meets many difficulties," he notes. "The distance of its members from one another and unsuccessful reunification often result in breaking the original ties.

"New relationships are formed and new affections arise. Some migrants forget the past and their duties, as they are subjected to the hard trial of distance and solitude. If the immigrant family is not ensured a real possibility of inclusion and participation, it is difficult to expect its harmonious development."

In the message, Benedict XVI observes that "The International Convention for the protection of the rights of all migrant workers and members of their families, which was enforced on July 1, 2003, intends to defend men and women migrant workers and the members of their respective families."

Call to ratify

Therefore, the Pontiff appealed to governments to ratify "the international legal instruments that aim to defend the rights of migrants, refugees and their families."

In particular, the Holy Father calls attention to the situation of refugees' families, whose conditions seem to have worsened in comparison to the past.

"In the camps assigned to them, in addition to logistic difficulties, and those of a personal character linked to the trauma and emotional stress caused by the tragic experiences they went through, sometimes there is also the risk of women and children being involved in sexual exploitation, as a survival mechanism," Benedict XVI states.

Thus he encourages "an attentive pastoral presence" on the part of the Church that, in addition to "giving assistance capable of healing the wounds of the heart, … should also offer the support of the Christian community, able to restore the culture of respect and have the true value of love found again."

The Pope insists, "Everything must be done to guarantee the rights and dignity of the families and to assure them housing facilities according to their needs."

Finally, the Pontiff states, "Refugees are asked to cultivate an open and positive attitude toward their receiving society and maintain an active willingness to accept offers to participate in building together an integrated community that would be a 'common household' for all."