The Holy See
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Brussels, Belgium
Tuesday, 10 July 2007  


Mr President,

In our day, the link between migration and development calls for greater attention in every part of the world.

As my Delegation cordially thanks the Belgian Government for its efforts in organizing this Forum, it desires to stress in this regard that whether they are migrants or members of the local population, human beings are not primarily or solely an economic factor but human people, endowed with innate dignity and equal and inalienable rights.

At the same time, even development cannot claim to be authentic if it is obtained at ordinary people's expense (cf. Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, n. 9). To be genuine, development must concern every person and the whole person (cf. Populorum Progressio, n. 14), that is, it must be integral and holistic.

Unless the moral, cultural, spiritual and religious requirements of individuals and communities are respected, their material well-being will prove inadequate (cf. Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, n. 9).

With regard to migration, there is no doubt that in the first place people are entitled to live in peace and dignity in their own country.

As a result, their countries of origin have the serious responsibility for working to increase development so that their citizens will not be compelled to leave their homeland in search of a dignified life elsewhere.

Nevertheless, to achieve the common universal good (intended for the whole of humanity), the support, solidarity, assistance and cooperation of others is essential, especially when a nation cannot manage to keep up with the development process and the struggle for peace and security.

Today, unfortunately, people are still emigrating, driven among other things by the necessity of providing for their family, which is, effectively, the natural and fundamental cell of society.

Migrants need to live in a family like others but are even more in need of their own family, since for those who are far from home family support is indispensable (cf. Pope Benedict XVI, Message for the 93rd World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2007; L'Osservatore Romano English edition, 13 December 2006, p. 6).

Consequently, families should not be disunited or debilitated, nor should their members, especially women and children, be left in a situation of vulnerability.

In another perspective, migration is also caused by the demand of industrialized countries for the services of migrants, which is linked to globalization. So it is that migrants contribute to the well-being of the host country.

Moreover, because of their human dignity, they must be respected and their rights and freedoms guaranteed:  the right to a dignified life and fair treatment in the work place, the rights of access to education, health care and other social benefits, to the development of their skills, to growth from a human viewpoint, to express their culture freely and to practice their religion.

Rights and duties, however, go hand in hand.

Therefore, at the same time, migrants are also duty bound to respect the identity and laws of their country of residence, to strive to be properly integrated (not assimilated) into the host society and to learn the language. They must learn to esteem and respect the host country, even to the point of coming to love and defend it (cf. Erga Migrantes Caritas Christi, n. 77).

Among them, unfortunately, are migrants in an illegal situation who nevertheless possess inalienable human dignity, independently of their legal status. Consequently, their rights must be safeguarded and not overlooked or violated (cf. ibid.).

The status of illegal immigrants, in fact, does not imply criminality. This problem could be solved by the improvement of international cooperation which would discourage illegality by increasing legal channels for migration.

Allow me to echo here the Papal Appeal, addressed to those Governments that have not already done so, to ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of all Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families. Thank you.

*L’Osservatore Romano, 21.7.2007 p.2.