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 Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People

People on the Move

N° 104, August 2007





(Brussels, 9-11 July 2007)




Archbishop Agostino MARCHETTO

Secretary of the Pontifical Council

for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People

Head of the Holy See Delegation


Mr. Chairman,

Today, the migration-development nexus is attracting international interest. In this regard, my Delegation, which thanks the Government of Belgium for the preparation of this Forum, would like to stress the fact that be they migrants or members of the local population, people are not primarily or only an economic factor but human persons, endowed with inherent dignity, and equal and inalienable rights.


Neither is development authentic if it is gained at the expense of the common people[1]. For development to be real, it must be of each person and of the whole person[2]. It must be integral, holistic. If the individualÂ’s and communitiesÂ’ moral, cultural, spiritual and religious exigencies are not respected, then material well-being will prove unsatisfying[3].

As far as migration is concerned, certainly, people have, first of all, the right to live in peace and dignity in their own country. Therefore, countries of origin have the serious responsibility to work hard for its own development, so that its citizens would not be obliged to go abroad for a life worthy of the human person.

However, the attainment of the universal common good (of the entire humanity) requires the support, solidarity, assistance and cooperation of others, especially when a Nation cannot cope with the development process and the struggle for peace and security.

Unfortunately, people are still migrating, among other things in order to provide for their family, which is, in fact, the natural and fundamental cell of society. But migrants also need to live in a family. More so because far from their home country, family support is vital[4]. Therefore families should not be scattered and weakened, leaving their members in a state of vulnerability, especially women and children.

From another perspective, migration is also caused by the demand for migrantsÂ’ services in developed countries, a fact linked to globalization. Thus, migrants contribute to their host countryÂ’s well-being, and also because of this their human dignity must be respected and their freedoms guaranteed: the right to a dignified life, to fair treatment at work, to have access to education, health and other social benefits, to grow in competence and develop humanly, to freely manifest their culture and practice their religion. But rights and duties go together. Therefore, at the same time, migrants have the duty to respect the identity and the laws of the country of residence, strive for proper integration (not assimilation) into the host society and learn its language. They are to foster esteem and respect for their host country, even to the point of loving and defending it[5].

 Unfortunately, among them there are immigrants in an irregular situation, who, however, independently of their legal status, have inalienable human dignity. Therefore their rights must be safeguarded and not ignored or violated[6]. An irregular migration status, in fact, does not mean criminality. The solution is: better international cooperation that discourages irregularity, with increased legal channels for migration.

Allow me to reiterate at this point the appeal to the Governments, who have not yet done so, to ratify the International Convention for the Protection of the Rights of all Migrant Workers and the Members of their Families.  


[1] cf. Sollicitudo Rei Socialis (SRS), no. 9 in

[3] cf. SRS 33.

[6]  Cf. EMCC 29.