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Pope calls for protection for migrant and refugee children

.- The World Day for Migrants and Refugees was recognized by the Pope in the Angelus on Sunday.  The Holy Father called for special consideration for child refugees as he reflected on the newborn baby Jesus and his “dramatic refugee experience."

Referring to refugees and immigrants , Pope Benedict said, “The presence of the Church beside these people has been constant over history," citing the specific contributions of  blessed Bishop John Baptist Scalabrini and Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini at the turn of the 20th century.

The Holy Father called for attention to young migrant and refugee, who, like Jesus  who had lived as a refugee after his birth, taught his disciples “to take in children with great respect and love.”

Pope Benedict added, “Also the child, in fact, regardless of his nationality and skin color, is to be considering first of all and always as a person, image of God, to encourage and protect against every marginalization and exploitation.  In particular, we must take every care so that minors that find themselves living in a foreign country are guaranteed for on the legislative plane and above all (are) accompanied in the innumerable problems that they must confront.”

“While I strongly encourage the Christian community and the organisms that work in service of minor immigrants and refugees, I exhort all to keep alive the educative and cultural sensitivity in their experiences, according to the authentic evangelistic spirit.”

Blessed Giovanni Scalabrini and Saint Frances Cabrini knew each other well and both founded religious orders to provide aid to those emigrating from Italy. 

According to Saints.com, Blessed John Baptist Scalabrini founded the Congregation of the Missionaries of Saint Charles who dedicated themselves to the "religious, moral, social and legal care of migrants."  Saint (Mother) Cabrini, under orders from Bishop Scalabrini, founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart "to care for poor children in schools and hospitals.  She would be sent to Chicago by Pope Leo XIII to continue this mission, working mostly with Italian nationals.  Mother Cabrini would become the first U.S. citizen to become a saint.

Following the Angelus, the Pope warmly greeted, with an emphatic "Thanks for coming!" to all those present in St. Peter's Square in representation of diverse the ethnic communities. He also expressed his hope that "all would participate fully in the social and ecclesial life, keeping the values of their cultures of origin."

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