The President of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples, Archbishop Antonio Maria Veglia, said this week that while the Church has no hand in the formulation of government immigration policies, she can insist on "solidarity for those living in vulnerable situations, such as refugees and immigrants.”
In an interview with L'Osservatore Romano, the archbishop also recalled that immigrants and refugees have "a fundamental human right" to be cared for which must be respected regardless of “the specific problems related to their situation."
The Vatican prelate said that while the situation of refugees and immigrants does create real economic and legal difficulties that demand “wise policies,” there is a need to “objectively understand the phenomenon at the international level” in order to provide “guidance and management that take into account the various aspects involved.”
In addition to defending immigrants and refugees, the Archbishop Veglia continued, the Church will always side with the "elderly, disabled and terminally ill, expressing her opposition to attempts to go against the right to life."
"Certainly laws alone are not sufficient to support the growth of an integrated society in which its different components coexist peacefully and mutually prosper. All cultural and educational entities should be involved in a process that involves all areas of life," he said.
After commenting on the case of Europe, which has a "multi-ethnic, multi-faith, multicultural” society for the foreseeable future, the archbishop warned that "to deny the metamorphosis that is taking place at international level is not only absurd but also dangerous and irresponsible.” Denial of the change is problematic, he said, because the phenomenon has already led to structural changes and their “positive effects must be supported and negative effects reduced.”
For this reason, he continued, the young generations in particular, but also the population in general—whether native or immigrant—need to receive adequate formation in order be prepared to live together in peace and diversity.” Governments must be on the front lines in the effort, adopting appropriate measures to assist in the process.
Archbishop Veglia also mentioned that the Sixth World Congress for Migrant and Refugee Ministry will be held at the Vatican November 9-12, an event that takes place every five years and will focus on the phenomenon of immigration in the era of globalization this year.