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Pope urges bold, creative response to migration

Published 11/01/2016

Pope Francis has called for a bold and creative strategy to deal with global migration. (AP)
Pope Francis has called for a bold and creative strategy to deal with global migration. (AP)

Pope Francis has called for a bold and creative strategy to deal with global migration, insisting that Europe has the means to absorb refugees without sacrificing its security or culture.

In a speech to the Holy See's diplomatic corps, Francis lamented the distinction made by the international community between refugees fleeing persecution and those fleeing poverty.

He says human history has been marked by great waves of migration, and that humanity today must not let security fears replace the principle of respecting the dignity of others.

He is calling for dialogue to begin among the countries of migrants' origin, transit and reception "so that with greater boldness and creativity, new and sustainable solutions can be sought".

"Europe has the means to defend the centrality of the human person and to find the right balance between its twofold moral responsibility to protect the rights of its citizens and to ensure assistance and acceptance to migrants," he said.

Francis has made migration the top priority of his pontificate: His first trip outside Rome as pope was to the Italian island of Lampedusa, where he celebrated Mass in honour of the thousands of people who have died crossing the Mediterranean and denounced the "globalisation of indifference" that the world had shown to people fleeing their homes for better lives abroad.

On subsequent trips, Francis has visited refugee camps, while closer to home he has opened the Vatican's doors to two refugee families and called on parishes around the world to do the same.

Francis devoted nearly his entire speech to the issue, showing the importance it has in the Holy See's foreign policy under the first Latin American pope, who ministered to Paraguayan migrants in the slums of Buenos Aires before his election.

In his speech, Francis acknowledged fears about security in the wake of extremist attacks in Europe, Asia and elsewhere. But he said those fears should not result in Europe losing its values of solidarity and humanity.

"Human history is made up of countless migrations, sometimes out of an awareness of the right to choose freely, and often dictated by external circumstances," he said. Citing Biblical accounts, Francis said today's migrants are "possessed of the same determination which Moses had to reach a land flowing with milk and honey".

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