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Friday, November 27, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 27 NOV 2009 (VIS) - In the Holy See Press Office this morning, the presentation took place of the Holy Father's Message for the ninety-sixth World Day of Migrants and Refugees. The theme of this year's Message is "Underage migrants and refugees".

  Participating in the press conference were Archbishop Antonio Maria Veglio, Archbishop Agostino Marchetto and Msgr. Novatus Rugambwa, respectively president, secretary and under secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples.

  Archbishop Veglio explained how the reasons behind the migration of minors are similar to those behind the migration of adults: "armed conflict of an ethnic or religious nature, economic and social crises, lack of future prospects". Yet at the same time their migration has a specific characteristic, in that "an unaccompanied minor cannot be repatriated".

  Consequently there are cases in which "parents, sometimes entire families, place all their hopes in the success of a minor who emigrates. This then becomes a powerful psychological pressure for the youth, who does not wish to disappoint them". Thus, such minors "are ready to suffer injustices, violence and mistreatment in order to obtain a residency permit, perhaps a school education, and above all a job with which to help the families who have 'invested' so much in them".

  For his part, Archbishop Marchetto recalled how "mobility is a macro-phenomenon of our time, one which simultaneously involves the elderly, adults and children all over the world. It is, as we say in evangelical language, a 'sign of the times'. The Church is particularly close to refugees and forced migrants, not only through her pastoral presence and material support for those in need, but also through her commitment to defend their human dignity".

  Turning his attention to child refugees, the prelate noted how "there are many minors who ... cross frontiers alone. ... This is, in the final analysis, a survival strategy. ... The reasons for the forced abandonment of their homes are linked to war, adverse political situations, the killing of a member of the family or the persecution of the child itself. ... These reasons are more than sufficient to request asylum, a situation for which provision is made in long-standing international humanitarian law, at least in principle".

  Nonetheless "it must be recognised with great sadness that members of civil society act and react to the arrival of refugees on the basis of stereotypes, preconceptions and prejudices. ... Such discrimination, ... even racism, must be met with policies appropriate for safeguarding ... the rights of refugees and internally displaced persons".

  "Our Christian communities", Archbishop Marchetto concluded, "have the 'duty to welcome whoever comes knocking out of need', to show solidarity, hospitality, and a pastoral commitment aimed at the needs of minors, especially unaccompanied minors and other refugees separated from their families. We must give them hope, courage and love".

  Referring to the problems faced by migrant and refugee children, Msgr. Rugambwa pointed out that "language in particular is an important variable linked to their suffering. ... Education and the development of new skills, especially that of speaking the new language in order to be able to communicate adequately in the host country, enable [migrants] to play an active role in integration and to take their proper place in the host society.

  "Unfortunately", he added, "a large number of these migrants and refugees often encounter obstacles on their educational itinerary, and in their subsequent professional training or higher education".

  Msgr. Rugambwa concluded by underlining the need for commitment "to counter the tendency towards scholastic segregation; ... the absence of equal-opportunity policies, and ... the lack of financial resources to resolve these difficulties".
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VATICAN CITY, 27 NOV 2009 (VIS) - "Underage migrants and refugees" is the theme chosen by the Holy Father for the ninety-sixth World Day of Migrants and Refugees, which is due to be celebrated on 17 January 2010.

  Some extracts from the English-language translation of the Pope's Message are given below:

  "The celebration of the World Day of Migrants and Refugees once again gives me the opportunity to express the Church's constant concern for those who, in different ways, experience emigration. This is a phenomenon which, as I wrote in the Encyclical 'Caritas in Veritate', upsets us due to the number of people involved and the social, economic, political, cultural and religious problems it raises on account of the dramatic challenges it poses to both national and international communities. The migrant is a human being who possesses fundamental, inalienable rights that must be respected by everyone and in every circumstance".

  "While the Convention on the Rights of the Child clearly states that the best interests of minors must always be safeguarded, recognising their fundamental human rights as equal to the rights of adults, unfortunately this does not always happen in practice. Although there is an increasing public awareness of the need for immediate and incisive action to protect minors, nevertheless, many are left to themselves and, in various ways, face the risk of exploitation".

  "It is my heartfelt hope that proper attention will be given to underage migrants, who need a social environment that enables and fosters their physical, cultural, spiritual and moral development. Living in a foreign land without effective points of reference generates countless and sometimes serious hardships and difficulties for them, especially those deprived of the support of their family.

  "A typical aspect of the migration of minors is the situation of children born in the host country or of those who do not live with their parents, who emigrated after their birth, but join them later. These adolescents belong to two cultures with all the advantages and problems attached to their dual background, a condition that can nevertheless offer them the opportunity to experience the richness of an encounter between different cultural traditions.

  "It is important that these young people be given the possibility of attending school and subsequently of being integrated into the world of work, and that their social integration be facilitated by appropriate educational and social structures. It should never be forgotten that adolescence constitutes a fundamental phase for the formation of human beings.

  "A particular category of minors is that of refugees seeking asylum, who, for various reasons, are fleeing their own country, where they are not given adequate protection. Statistics show that their numbers are increasing. This is therefore a phenomenon that calls for careful evaluation and co-ordinated action by implementing appropriate measures of prevention, protection and welcome, as set forth in the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

  "I now turn in particular to parishes and to the many Catholic associations which, imbued with a spirit of faith and charity, take pains to meet the needs of these brothers and sisters of ours. While I express gratitude for all that is being done with great generosity, I would like to invite all Christians to become aware of the social and pastoral challenges posed by underage migrants and refuges.

  "Jesus' words resound in our hearts: 'I was a stranger and you welcomed me', as, likewise, the central commandment He left us: to love God with all our heart, with all our soul and with all our mind, and to associate this with love of neighbour. This leads us to consider that any of our interventions must first be nurtured by faith in the action of grace and Divine Providence. In this way also, hospitality and solidarity to strangers, especially if they are children, become a proclamation of the Gospel of solidarity. The Church proclaims this when she opens her arms and strives to have the rights of migrants and refugees respected, moving the leaders of nations, and those in charge of international organisations and institutions to promote appropriate initiatives for their support".
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VATICAN CITY, 27 NOV 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

 - Cardinal Emmanuel III Delly, patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, Iraq.

 - Three prelates from the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Vilson Dias de Oliveira D.C. of Limeira.

    - Bishop Antonio Carlos Altieri S.D.B. of Caraguatatuba.

    - Bishop Jose Maria Pinheiro, apostolic administrator of Braganca Paulista.

  This evening he is scheduled to receive in audience Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
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VATICAN CITY, 27 NOV 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Fr. Milton Luis Troccoli Cebedio, episcopal vicar for pastoral care and for vocational pastoral care in the archdiocese of Montevideo, Uruguay, as auxiliary of the same archdiocese (area 540, population 1,381,000, Catholics 871,800, priests 245, permanent deacons 35, religious 751). The bishop-elect was born in Montevideo in 1964 and ordained a priest in 1988.
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