Do something about forced migration, cardinal exhorts UN

A CRS tent aiding refugees and migrants in Europe Credit Catholic Relief Services Sean Callahan CNA 10 21 15 A CRS tent aiding refugees and migrants in Europe. | Catholic Relief Services' Sean Callahan.

The Vatican Secretary of State pleaded Monday for an increased commitment from the international community in addressing the root causes of forced migration, particularly those which are man-made, such as war and arms trading.

"Since human choices provoke conflicts and wars, it is well within our power and responsibility to address this root cause that drives millions to become refugees, forced migrants and internally displaced persons," Cardinal Pietro Parolin said Sept. 19 at the United Nations Summit for Refugees and Migrants in New York.

"The greatest challenge before us," Cardinal Parolin said, "is to identify and act on the root causes that force millions of people to leave their homes, their livelihoods, their families and their countries, risking their very lives and those of their loved ones in the search for safety, peace and better lives in foreign lands."

Cardinal Parolin highlighted the increase in religious persecution as a cause of displacement, acknowledging that while "other groups are heavily targeted, many reports confirm that Christians are by far the most persecuted faith group," and that many are even harassed in refugee settings.

"We must not abandon them," he urged.

"Addressing the root causes of displacement of peoples," Cardinal Parolin said, "requires strength and political will."

"As Pope Francis has said, this 'would mean rethinking entrenched habits and practices, beginning with issues involving the arms trade, the provision of raw materials and energy, investment, policies of financing and sustainable development, and even the grave scourge of corruption.'"

Where the likelihood of illegal use is "real and present," the Holy See has "repeatedly called to limit strictly and to control the manufacture and sale of weapons," Cardinal Parolin stated.

"The proliferation of any type of weapons aggravates situations of conflict and results in huge human and material costs, provoking large movements of refugees and migrants and profoundly undermining development and the search for lasting peace."

Cardinal Parolin stressed that eliminating the structural causes of poverty and hunger must include protection of the environment, assurance of dignified labor for all, access to quality education, and protection of the family, which he said is "an essential element in human and social development."

Diplomacy and dialogue are the way to resolve questions, Cardinal Parolin affirmed, praising the summit for addressing "more effective ways of sharing responsibility" in the face of the refugee and migrant crisis.

While they are not recognized as refugees by international conventions, Cardinal Parolin added, "the Holy See feels itself compelled to draw urgent attention to the plight of those migrants fleeing from situations of extreme poverty and environmental degradation," as well.

"They suffer greatly and are most vulnerable to human trafficking and various forms of human slavery," he said.

"The Holy See thus pleads for a common commitment on the part of individual governments and the international community to bring to an end all fighting, hatred and violence, and to pursue peace and reconciliation."

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