The Holy See
back up

 Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People

People on the Move

N° 102, December 2006






Q. Let us ask the Archbishop Secretary about the most important content of the Message.

R. The Papal Message presented today in the Holy See Press Hall invites reflection on the condition of the migrant family, in continuity with the previous Messages of 1980, 1986 and 1993, but also with a reference to the Apostolic Constitution Exsul Familia fifty-five years after its promulgation. In this way, Benedict XVI has intervened for the second time - after his first Message last year entitled, Migrations: A Sign of the Times - on the varied and complex situation which involves today almost 200 million migrants for economic reasons, approximately nine million refugees, and about two million international students. As you know there are also internally displaced persons, trafficked people, etc. These are our sisters and brothers in different conditions of mobility for whom the Church shows particular pastoral concern.  

In fact, the Papal Message develops on a double track: on the one hand, the Holy Father describes their difficulties, problems and challenges; on the other, he stresses “the Church’s commitment” in this area and also proposes guidelines, in thought and in practice, for a renewed pastoral care of migrations. This is without forgetting to encourage the responsible institutions so that they will provide “legislative, juridical and social interventions” to respond to the difficulties of the migrant family, especially with regard to protection for all migrants, integration into the host country, family reunion, spiritual and psychological assistance in the refugee camps, and sensitivity with regard to the “students from other countries”.

Q. Let us also hear what particular aspect Archbishop Marchetto would like to highlight.

A. I would like to stress the importance of the family and its current challenges.

Men and woman migrants generally aim at attaining a dignified position that will enable them first of all to survive and to have economic independence, but with a provisional view, which usually does not include integration into the host society. This is how the presence is explained of individuals, perhaps on a seasonal basis, whereas family reunion comes about in a subsequent stage. Then the migrant family finds itself inserted into a system based on the role of the individual and on his/her production capacity or success. In this way the isolation of the members of the nuclear family is underscored, which sometimes overflows into loneliness and marginalization. This isolation often appears to be more accentuated for women who, among other things, are more exposed to the danger of trafficking of human beings and prostitution.

Moreover, the upheavals in the family roles, due to the demands of the labor market, cause the sad situation of women immigrants who see their children unjustly taken away from them because of their working hours or poor working conditions, and this involves the intervention of the institutions, through the communities that take care of minors and family foster care.

In any case, the Papal Message encourages building relations of true acceptance starting from the response with solidarity to the needs of the migrant family. All things considered, it is necessary to develop relations that will be expressed, on the one hand, in aid for insertion into the host society and, on the other, occasions for growth - personal, social and ecclesial - based on respect for cultures and religions and on the reciprocal exchange of values.

Lastly, education to “globalization” to become a universal citizen, to have a worldwide sense, surely contributes to developing a new sensitivity towards setting up friendlier relations between individuals and families, finally among peoples, as well as in the milieu of schools and in living and working environments.