Pope tells government officials: Migrants must be received, integrated

By Catholic News Service
Thursday, December 14, 2023

Pope Francis meets with a delegation of regional Italian government officials at the Vatican Dec. 11, 2023. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis asked Italian government officials to remember the traumatic and often life-threatening journeys migrants endure to reach Europe when welcoming them into their regions and communities.

Migrants, he said, “are faces, and not numbers; people who cannot simply be categorized but should be embraced; brothers and sisters who need to be removed from the tentacles of criminal organizations capable of mercilessly exploiting their misfortunes.” The pope highlighted the “lagers,” or camps, that exist in northern Africa where migrants seeking passage into Europe are “treated like slaves, tortured, even killed.”

Meeting at the Vatican Dec. 11 with “prefects” of the Italian government — regional government officials who enact federal laws — the pope said it is up to them to offer migrants a welcome “based on integration” and include them in the fabric of their local societies.

“Migrants must be received, accompanied, promoted and integrated,” he said. “If there is not this path to integration, there is danger.” Pope Francis noted that when properly included, migrants contribute to the society that welcomes them. And, he noted, given Italy’s falling birthrate, the country needs newcomers. Just as Italians have a responsibility to have and raise children, he said, they must also “receive migrants like sons and daughters.”


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