In remarks he made at a meeting in Mexico, the Vatican’s Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin spoke on “international migration and development.” Aside from Mexican officials and academics, the meeting was also by the foreign ministers of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.
Zenit.org made the following translation from Spanish of extracts from the talk of Cardinal Parolin.
* * *
The great contribution of Christianity to humanity, then, with the maturing of the times, will be recognized for the enlightenment that universal fraternity is a political category. Reason enlightened by faith joyfully shows that the human family are all children of the same Father . . . In a radical way, Christianity has stated from the very beginning that we are all free, we are all equal, we are all brothers. As a result, the dignity of the person derives not from their economic situation, political affiliation, level of education, immigration status or religious belief. Every human being, for the very fact of being a person, possesses a dignity that deserves to be treated with the utmost respect.
Every day we receive further news of the huge number of people in the world who are forced to leave behind their homeland on account of tragic situations of suffering and pain. The causes are always the same: violation of the most elementary human rights, violence, lack of security, wars, unemployment and poverty. . . . In their attempt to arrive in a promised land where it is possible to lead a dignified life, thousands of people experience hunger, humiliation, violations of their dignity, sometimes torture, and some die amid the indifference of many. It is astonishing to see that, in the 21st century, there are victims of human trafficking, forced to work in conditions of semi-slavery or sexually abused; there are those who fall into the clutches of criminal bands who operate at a transnational level, often with impunity on account of corruption and certain collusion. The issue before us today, human mobility in today’s world, is entrenched in this world of pain to which no-one can remain indifferent, especially the Church. It is the greatest movement of people, including entire populations, of all time.
I think I can say with reason that in our globalised world, progress is not achieved only with a greater flow of capital, goods and information. An increase in the commercial and financial exchange between nations does not automatically lead to an improvement in the living standards of the population, nor does it automatically generate more wealth. In this regard, we note that nations, especially those that are more economically and socially advanced, owe their development largely to migrants . . . Those societies in which legal immigrants are not openly welcomed, but are instead treated with prejudice, as dangerous or harmful subjects, show themselves to be weak and unprepared for the challenges of the coming decades. By contrast, those that are able to see newcomers as generators of wealth, especially of a human and cultural nature, therefore know how to appropriately welcome them; those societies that make consistent efforts to integrate immigrants, offer an unequivocal message of solidity and guarantees to the entire international community, which can generate further progress.
It is certain that human mobility and its impact on development are two of the most complex social phenomena, difficult to resolve without a general spirit of trust. On the one hand, immigrants must seek to integrate in the country that receives them, respecting its laws and national identity. On the other, the State also has the duty of defending its borders, without ever forgetting the importance of respect for human righs and the duty of solidarity. It is clear that the phenomenon of migration cannot be resolved solely by legislative measures or by adopting public policies, good though they may be, and far less so solely through the deployment of the forces of security and order. The solution to the problem of migration requires a profound cultural and social conversion that enables a closed culture to transform into a “culture of welcome and encounter.”
In this context, the Church has always been, and will continue to be, a loyal collaborator . . . By definition, being Catholic means being universal and transnational. Its message is not confined to the private lives of the faithful, but instead seeks conversion, expanding and reaching towards paths of culture and social justice, since it is not possible to define oneself as Christian and then turn one’s back on justice and fraternity, also with non-believers. Furthermore, the Holy See, the central government of the universal Church, is a subject with full sovereignty in international law and has full legal personality . . . Aided by Pontifical Representatives, the Holy See participates in the most varied political forums with the aim of ensuring that universal human rights are fully protected with respect for the ethical and moral principles that shape social life. The Church will always support, at national and international level, any initiative for the adoption of joint policies.
In relation to the phenomenon of migration, we urgently need to overcome atavistic fears and to establish common strategies at sub-regional, regional and worldwide levels to include all sectors of society. Let us think, for example, of the United States of America, whose administration has in recent weeks published data referring to the migratory flow of children who cross borders unaccompanied by adults. The number grows exponentially day by day. Whether they are journeying because of poverty, violence or in the hope of reuniting with families on the other side of the border, it is urgent to protect and help them, as their weakness is greater and, defenseless, they are vulnerable to all forms of abuse and misfortune. Politics is the art of the possible. Let us make possible what seems impossible; let us be ambitious in facing up to challenges. Let us not be discouraged by apparent failures.