Migrants a Resource, Nothing to Fear, Says Pope
Calls Faithful to Open Their Hearts
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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 10, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Migrants must not be regarded as a problem or people to fear, but rather a resource to be valued with a spirit of hospitality for the promotion of genuine development.
Benedict XVI stressed this Monday when he addressed participants in the 6th Congress for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Refugees, which is considering migration in the context of globalization and the implementation of the instruction "Erga Migrantes Caritas Christi," five years after its release.
The conference has brought together some 300 people from 81 countries, among whom are cardinals, bishops, priests and laypersons, as well as fraternal delegates representing the Orthodox, Anglicans and Lutherans, and experts, academics and envoys of international organizations and ecclesial movements.
The Holy Father told the participants that in the present context, dominated by the world economic crisis and by a growing economic divide between poor and industrialized countries, "many migrants leave their country to escape from humanly unacceptable conditions of life, but without finding in other places the hospitality they expected."
The Pontiff contended that "genuine development always has a solidary nature" and globalization "can be a propitious occasion to promote integral development, but only if cultural differences are accepted as occasions for meeting and dialogue, and if the unequal distribution of world resources sparks a new awareness of the necessary solidarity that must unite the human family."
Benedict XVI called for "adequate answers to the great social changes under way, taking into account that there cannot be effective development if the meeting between peoples, the dialogue between cultures and respect for legitimate differences are not fostered."
"Migrations are an invitation to perceive clearly the unity of the human family, and the values of acceptance, hospitality and love of neighbor," he added.
The Pope reminded the faithful of the Church's invitation to "open their hearts to migrants and their families, knowing that [...] they constitute a resource that must be valued at the proper time for humanity's journey and its genuine development."
In his opening address, Archbishop Antonio Vegliò, president of the pontifical council that organized the conference, explained that among its objectives is addressing the reality of departure, transit and arrival, which goes across society and Christian communities.
"The present movements of peoples make it necessary to further knowledge," he said, "on topics such as the fundamental unity of the human race, freedom of religion and worship, universal fraternity, the universal destiny of the goods of this world, the right to liberty of movement, the centrality of the human person and the protection of his fundamental rights everywhere, as well as the reunification of families, an education that respects the native culture of migrants and, finally, the responsibility of political leaders to find stable solutions, in the socioeconomic field, which do not oblige citizens to emigrate."