Pope: Migrant Youth Suffer a "Dual Belonging"

Says Church Looks on Them With Special Affection

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 28, 2007 (Zenit.org).- In an ever more globalized world, emigration is a growing phenomenon that causes particular difficulties for youth who travel far from their countries and families, says Benedict XVI.



"Young Migrants" is the theme of the Pope's Message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, which is to be celebrated on Jan. 13. The message, signed Oct. 18 and released today, has been published in six languages, including English.

"For the young migrants, the problems of the so-called difficulty of dual belonging seem to be felt in a particular way," the Holy Father wrote. "On the one hand, they feel a strong need to not lose their culture of origin, while on the other, the understandable desire emerges in them to be inserted organically into the society that receives them, but without this implying a complete assimilation and the resulting loss of their ancestral traditions.

"These boys and girls often end up on the street abandoned to themselves and prey to unscrupulous exploiters who often transform them into the object of physical, moral and sexual violence."

Refugees

Another realm in which youth suffer is the sector of forced migrants, refugees and the victims of human trafficking, the Pontiff said.

He wrote: "On this subject it is impossible to remain silent before the distressing images of the great refugee camps present in different parts of the world. How can we not think that these little beings have come into the world with the same legitimate expectations of happiness as the others?

"And, at the same time, how can we not remember that childhood and adolescence are fundamentally important stages for the development of a man and a woman that require stability, serenity and security? These children and adolescents have only had as their life experience the permanent, compulsory 'camps' where they are segregated, far from inhabited towns, with no possibility normally to attend school. How can they look to the future with confidence?

"While it is true that much is being done for them, even greater commitment is still needed to help them by creating suitable hospitality and formative structures."

Benedict XVI encouraged helping young migrants in every way possible, first of all by providing support for their families and schools.

"But how complex the situations are, and how numerous the difficulties these young people encounter in their family and school contexts," he acknowledged.

The Pope continued: "Everyone's commitment -- teachers, families and students -- will surely contribute to helping the young migrants to face in the best way possible the challenge of integration and offer them the possibility to acquire what can aid their human, cultural and professional formation.

"This holds even more for the young refugees for whom adequate programs will have to be prepared, both in the scholastic and the work contexts, in order to guarantee their preparation and provide the necessary bases for a correct insertion into the new social, cultural and professional world."

Students

Finally, the Holy Father returned to a theme he mentioned in his message last year for this world day: students who emigrate to study.

"They are young people who need a specific pastoral care because they are not just students, like all the rest, but also temporary migrants," the Pontiff explained. "They often feel alone under the pressure of their studies and sometimes they are also constricted by economic difficulties. The Church, in her maternal concern, looks at them with affection and tries to put specific pastoral and social interventions into action that will take the great resources of their youth into consideration."

Benedict XVI concluded by addressing young migrants: "Prepare yourselves to build together with your young peers a more just and fraternal society by fulfilling your duties scrupulously and seriously toward your families and the state.

"Be respectful of the laws and never let yourselves be carried away by hatred and violence. Try instead to be protagonists as of now of a world where understanding and solidarity, justice and peace will reign.

"Jesus wants you to be his true friends, and for this it is necessary for you to cultivate a close relationship with him constantly in prayer and docile listening to his word. He wants you to be his witnesses, and for this it is necessary for you to be committed to living the Gospel courageously and expressing it in concrete acts of love of God and generous service to your brothers and sisters. The Church needs you too and is counting on your contribution."