Migration Can Be Factor for Peace, Says John Paul II

Urges Respect Between Migrants and Their Hosts

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 23, 2003 (Zenit.org).- The phenomenon of migration can become a favorable element for world peace if two conditions are met, says John Paul II.



Those conditions, according to the Pope, are: The dignity of immigrants must be scrupulously respected and, in turn, the latter must be willing to integrate, respecting the cultural patrimony of the peoples who receive them.

The Holy Father makes this point in his message for the 2004 World Day of the Immigrant and Refugee, an event whose date is established by the respective bishops' conferences. The theme of the World Day is "Migrations from the Viewpoint of Peace."

"When the 'differences' begin to integrate, they give life to the 'coexistence of differences,'" the Pope writes. "Values are thus rediscovered that are common to all cultures, capable of uniting and not dividing; values that sink their roots in one same human 'humus.'"

"This helps the establishment of a fruitful dialogue to construct a path of reciprocal, realistic and respectful tolerance of each one's peculiarities," the Holy Father adds. "With these conditions, the phenomenon of migrations helps to cultivate the 'dream' of a future of peace for the whole of humanity."

"This is what happens," he writes, "when immigrants are treated with the respect due to the dignity of every person; when the culture of acceptance and the culture of peace, which harmonizes differences and seeks dialogue, is favored with all means, without falling into forms of indifference when values are in question."

"This solidaristic openness becomes an offer of peace and a condition of peace," the Pope explains.

"If a gradual integration of all immigrants is fostered, respecting their identity, maintaining at the same time the cultural patrimony of the peoples who receive them, there is less of a risk that they will come together to form real and proper ghettos, where they remain isolated from the social context, which results sometimes in fueling the desire to gradually conquer the territory," he states.

"No one can remain indifferent to the conditions experienced by whole columns of immigrants!" the Holy Father writes. He appeals to public opinion not to become accustomed to the drama of the displaced, who are often fleeing from armed conflicts or conditions of abject poverty.

"The conviction is ever growing that it is necessary to combat the evil of war at its root," he adds. "Peace is not only the absence of conflicts, but a long-term dynamic and participatory process, which involves all social realms, from the family to the school, as well as the different institutions and national and international organizations."