Pope Francis: Borders Are ‘Windows’ for Immigration, Not Barriers

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ROME — Pope Francis called for a new approach to international migration Thursday, insisting that people need to view migration as a positive phenomenon rather than a problem.

Addressing participants in the European project “Snapshots from the Borders” led by Lampedusa Mayor Salvatore Martello, the pontiff said that Europe needs to offer “a more humane and coordinated response to the challenges of contemporary migration.”

“Borders, which have always been considered as dividing barriers, can instead become ‘windows,’ spaces of mutual knowledge, of mutual enrichment, of communion in diversity,” Francis said. “They can become places for experimentation with models to overcome the difficulties that new arrivals entail for native communities.”

The key, he suggested, is a change in mentality that views migrants as persons.

“It is essential to change the way we view and talk about immigration,” he asserted. It is about putting people, faces and stories at the center.”

“The current migration scenario is complex and often has dramatic implications,” he said. “The global interdependencies that determine migratory flows need to be studied and understood better.”

“The challenges are manifold and challenge everyone,” the pope said. “No one can remain indifferent to the human tragedies that continue to take place in different regions of the world.”

Pope Francis has been one of the most vocal advocates of international migration on the world scene, proposing it as worthy not only of acceptance but of promotion and encouragement.

Last September, Francis asserted that immigration is an effective means of mixing races and cultures that should be positively encouraged.

Xenophobia is “part of a populist mentality that leaves no sovereignty to the people. Xenophobia destroys the unity of a people, even that of the people of God,” Francis told a gathering of Jesuits during his 2019 visit to Africa.

“There are those who want to stop this very important process of mingling cultures, which gives life to people,” he said. “Mixing makes you grow, it gives you new life. It develops racial mixing, change and gives originality.”

“The mixing of identities is what we have experienced, for example, in Latin America. There we have everything: Spanish and Indian, the missionary and the conqueror, the Spanish lineage, people’s mixed heritage,” he added.

“Building walls means condemning yourself to death,” Francis said. “We can’t live asphyxiated by a culture as clean and pure as an operating theater, aseptic and not microbial.”

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