Pope Says International Community Called to Defend Migrants

Pope Francis (C) speaks to migrants during his visit to the island of Lampedusa, a key destination of tens of thousands of would-be immigrants from Africa, on July 8, 2013. Pope Francis called for an end to 'indifference' to the plight of refugees on Monday on a visit to an …
ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images

Pope Francis called on the leaders of nations Monday to lend assistance to migrants and refugees who have left their homelands for any reason and to help them integrate into their new homes.

Migrants and refuges are “among the weak of our time that the international community is called to defend,” the pope said in his annual address to the diplomatic corps accredited by the Holy See.

The pope launched an appeal to government leaders to “give assistance to those who have emigrated due to the scourge of poverty, any sort of violence and persecution, as well as natural disasters and climatic disturbances, and to facilitate measures that allow their social integration in their host countries.”

On the other hand, people should not be forced to abandon their family and nation, he added, and all should be allowed to return safely to their homeland, should they wish to do so.

“Every human being longs for a better, happier life and the challenge of migration cannot be solved with the logic of violence or a throwaway mentality or with partial solutions,” he said.

The pope took special issue with the United States and certain European nations like Italy that have worked to rein in illegal immigration and regain control of their borders.

Contrasting them with welcoming nations that are “driven by a generous spirit of solidarity and Christian charity,” Francis said he is aware that the migratory waves of these years “have caused mistrust and concern among the population of many countries, especially in Europe and North America, and this has led several governments to severely limit incoming flows, even those in transit.”

“I believe that it is not possible to give partial solutions to such a universal issue,” he said, in keeping with the theme of his speech against nationalism and unilateral decision-making.

“Recent emergencies have shown that a common response is needed, agreed upon by all countries,” he said.

In this regard, the pope praised the recent adoption of the two United Nations Global Compacts for Migration, asserting that they represent an “important step forward for the international community” because they are the first multinational agreements of their kind and will be important reference points for the future.

The pope lamented the “absence of various Governments at the recent United Nations Conference in Marrakesh,” referring to nations such as Israel, Italy, Hungary, the United States, Australia, Switzerland, and Poland that chose to sit the meeting out.

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