Pope Denounces ‘Racist, Xenophobic’ Attitudes Toward Immigrants

Elise Harris, Catholic News Agency, July 15, 2014

In his message for the Mexico-Holy See Colloquium on Migration and Development Pope Francis called for a change in the way migrants are viewed, giving particular emphasis to unaccompanied children.

“Many people forced to emigrate suffer, and often, die tragically; many of their rights are violated, they are obliged to separate from their families and, unfortunately, continue to be the subject of racist and xenophobic attitudes,” the Roman Pontiff stated in the July 15 message.

The Pope’s letter was read aloud during the July 14-15 colloquium by the Holy See’s Apostolic Nuncio to Mexico, Christophe Pierre. Vatican Secretary of State Pietro Parolin was also present.

Pope Francis drew attention specifically to the “tens of thousands” of children who migrate alone, particularly from Central America and Mexico to cross the border of the United States in order to escape poverty and violence.

Their pursuit of hope “in most cases turns out to be vain,” the Pope lamented, explaining that the number of unaccompanied child migrants is “increasing day by day.”

“This humanitarian emergency requires, as a first urgent measure, these children be welcomed and protected.”

However, these protective measures will not be enough, he said, “unless they are accompanied by policies that inform people about the dangers of such a journey and, above all, that promote development in their countries of origin.”

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“Faced with this situation,” the pontiff continued, “I repeat what I have affirmed in this year’s Message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees: ‘A change of attitude towards migrants and refugees is needed on the part of everyone.’”

Pope Francis called the faithful to move “away from attitudes of defensiveness and fear, indifference and marginalization–all typical of a throwaway culture,” and instead foster “attitudes based on a culture of encounter, the only culture capable of building a better, more just and fraternal world.”

He called on the entire international community to give greater attention to the issue, so that “new forms of legal and secure migration may be adopted.”

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