The Holy Father released a message today regarding the 96th World Day of Migrants and Refugees, to be observed on January 17, 2010. His Holiness uses these celebrations as opportunities to "express the Church's constant concern for those who, in different ways, experience a life of immigration." This year, the theme will be 'Minor Immigrants and Refugees.'
Pope Benedict XVI wrote that he wishes to invite "all Christians to become aware of the social and pastoral challenges posed by migrant and refugee minors." He included that whatever the origins of the migrant minor, whether they be born abroad or in the host country to non-citizen parents or if they be refugees seeking asylum, they are vulnerable to a variety of threats.
Among the threats to the present and future of these minors is the possibility of social exclusion and lack of access to education, not to mention burdens in the form of political, economic, social, cultural and religious problems.
However, the Pope emphasized, this is where local and international communities must step in, to establish social and educational structures that "permit and foster" proper development of the individual by nurturing physical, cultural, spiritual and moral awareness.
"It should never be forgotten that adolescence constitutes a fundamental phase for the formation of human beings," he wrote.
The Pope also directed a part of the letter specifically to parishes and other Catholic associations, asking that they take Jesus' words, "I was a stranger and you welcomed me," to heart and that they remain faithful to the golden rule.
'Concrete interventions' led to through contemplation of these passages, he relates, should be "nurtured by faith in the action of grace and divine Providence" so that "hospitality and solidarity to strangers, especially if they are children, become a proclamation of the Gospel of solidarity."
"The Church proclaims this," the Holy Father concluded, "when she opens here arms and strives to have the rights of migrants and refugees respected, moving the leaders of nations, and those in charge of international organizations and institutions to promote opportune initiatives for their support."