Pope Benedict XVI told members of the Vatican department for migrants today that those they serve have rights based solely on the fact that they are human beings. He encouraged international cooperation and a sense of co-responsibility between states and private organizations in finding solutions to migration that simultaneously respect national sovereignty and the rights of the individual.
Speaking in the Apostolic Palace with around 40 participants from this week's plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, the Holy Father commented on their theme of "Ministry of human mobility today, in the context of the co-responsibility of States and International Organisms."
"Obviously, the acquisition of rights goes hand in hand with the acceptance of duties," Pope Benedict remarked, reminding participants of the importance of the dignity of the person in their discussions about the rights and duties of migrants and those of their eventual host communities.
"Everyone, in fact, enjoys non-arbitrary rights and duties because they spring from the very human nature ... rights and duties that are therefore universal, inviolable and inalienable," he said.
Referring to global issues associated with international mobility, he said that there is a common responsibility for states and organizations that deal with migration to work to involve all peoples and to promote a shared plan.
"In such a context," he explained, "National and international laws which promote the common good and respect for the person encourage the hopes and efforts being made to achieve a world social order founded on peace, fraternity and universal co-operation, despite the critical phase international institutions are currently traversing as they concentrate on resolving crucial questions of security and development for everyone.”
The Holy Father noted that there is no lack of desire "to break down the walls that divide and to establish broad understanding also through legislative and administrative measures that favor integration, mutual exchange, and reciprocal enrichment."
It is in "reconciling recognition for the rights of the individual with the principle of national sovereignty, making specific reference to the needs of security, public order, and the control of borders," that cooperating states and organizations can contribute, he explained.
Pope Benedict went on to say that the “future of our societies rests on the encounter between peoples, on dialogue between cultures while respecting identities and legitimate differences. In this scenario, the family maintains its fundamental role, he stressed.
"Therefore," the Pope said, "the Church, by announcing the Gospel of Christ in all areas of life, carries forward her commitment 'not only in favor of the individual migrant, but also of his family, which is a place and resource of the culture of life and a factor for the integration of values.'"
The Holy Father left participants with the message that the Church is relying on the council to speak to organizations that dedicate themselves to migrants and make them more aware of ways to take co-ownership of helping migrants and their families.