The Vatican has just released the Message from Pope Francis for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees observed this coming January.
Pope Francis offers us the context for looking at this issue today:
"From the Christian standpoint, the reality of migration, like other human realities, points to the tension between the beauty of creation, marked by Grace and the Redemption, and the mystery of sin. Solidarity, acceptance, and signs of fraternity and understanding exist side by side with rejection, discrimination, trafficking and exploitation, suffering and death. Particularly disturbing are those situations where migration is not only involuntary, but actually set in motion by various forms of human trafficking and enslavement. Nowadays, 'slave labor" is common coin."
He points out that so often the scandal of poverty is the root cause of mass migration of peoples around the world--some 400 million people on the move each year. Pope Francis notes:
"While encouraging the development of a better world, we cannot remain silent about the scandal of poverty in its various forms. Violence, exploitation, discrimination, marginalization, restrictive approaches to fundamental freedoms, whether of individuals or of groups: these are some of the chief elements of poverty which need to be overcome. Often these are precisely the elements which mark migratory movements, thus linking migration to poverty. Fleeing from situations of extreme poverty or persecution in the hope of a better future, or simply to save their own lives, millions of persons choose to migrate. Despite their hopes and expectations, they often encounter mistrust, rejection and exclusion, to say nothing of tragedies and disasters which offend their human dignity."
The Pope then acknowledges yet another obstacle encountered by peoples on the move:
"Finally, in considering the situation of migrants and refugees, I would point to yet another element in building a better world, namely, the elimination of prejudices and presuppositions in the approach to migration. Not infrequently, the arrival of migrants, displaced persons, asylum-seekers and refugees gives rise to suspicion and hostility. There is a fear that society will become less secure, that identify and culture will be lost, that competition for jobs will become stiffer and even that criminal activity will increase."
Our Holy Father points to the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph as examples of migrants and refugees--forced to flee their homeland because of death threats.
He calls us to see our brothers and sisters to be welcomed, respected and loved. This attitude is so essential in our own country as the House of Representatives crafts legislation to help our 11 million unauthorized persons achieve full dignity, respect, and opportunity.