Dear brothers and sisters!
“The foreigner who resides with you will be treated as one of your countrymen, and you will love him as yourself, because you were a foreigner in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God” (Leviticus 19:34).
Over and over again, during these first years of my pontificate, I have expressed special concern for the plight of so many migrants and refugees fleeing war, persecution, natural disasters and poverty. It is undoubtedly a “sign of the times” that, since my visit to Lampedusa on 8 July 2013, I have tried to read in the light of the Holy Spirit. When I created the new Dicastery for the Service of Integral Human Development, I wanted there to be a special Section (temporarily placed under my direct guidance) that would express the Church’s concern for migrants, displaced persons, refugees and victims of trafficking. human.
Every foreigner who knocks at our door is an opportunity to encounter Jesus Christ, who identifies himself with the welcomed or rejected foreigner of every age (cf. Mt 25:35,43). The Lord entrusts to the maternal love of the Church every human being forced to leave their homeland in search of a better future. This solicitude must be expressed, in a concrete way, in the different stages of the migratory experience: from departure and crossing to arrival and return. This is a great responsibility that the Church wants to share with all believers and men and women of good will,
In this regard, I wish to reaffirm that “our common response could be articulated around four verbs founded on the principles of the Church’s doctrine: to welcome, protect, promote and integrate”.
Considering the current scenario, welcoming means, above all, offering migrants and refugees wider possibilities of safe and legal entry into the countries of destination. In this sense, a concrete effort is desirable to increase and simplify the granting of humanitarian visas and for family reunification. At the same time, I hope that more countries will adopt private and community sponsorship programs and open humanitarian corridors for the most vulnerable refugees. Furthermore, it would be advisable to provide for special temporary visas for people who, escaping from conflict, take refuge in neighboring countries. Collective and arbitrary expulsions of migrants and refugees do not constitute an ideal solution, especially when they are carried out in countries that cannot guarantee respect for dignity and fundamental rights. Once again, I stress the importance of providing migrants and refugees with adequate and decent first-time accommodation. “The widespread reception programs, which have already started in various parts, seem to facilitate personal encounters, allow for a better quality of services and offer greater guarantees of success”. The principle of the centrality of the human person, firmly upheld by my beloved predecessor Benedict XVI,  obliges us to always put personal security before national security. Consequently, it is necessary to adequately train the staff responsible for border controls. The status of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees requires that they be guaranteed personal security and access to basic services. In the name of the fundamental dignity of each person, let us strive to prefer other alternatives to detention for those who enter the national territory without being authorised. asylum seekers and refugees requires that they be guaranteed personal security and access to basic services. In the name of the fundamental dignity of each person, let us strive to prefer other alternatives to detention for those who enter the national territory without being authorised. asylum seekers and refugees requires that they be guaranteed personal security and access to basic services. In the name of the fundamental dignity of each person, let us strive to prefer other alternatives to detention for those who enter the national territory without being authorised.
The second verb, to protect, is combined in a wide range of actions in defense of the rights and dignity of migrants and refugees, regardless of their migratory status. This protection begins in the country itself, consisting in offering accurate and verified information before departure and in safeguarding it from illegal recruitment practices. Such protection should continue, as far as possible, in the land of immigration, guaranteeing migrants adequate consular assistance, the right to keep personal identity documents with them at all times, equitable access to justice, the possibility of opening personal bank accounts and the guarantee of a minimum subsistence of life. If the skills and competences of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees are properly recognized and valued, they truly add value to the communities that receive them. I therefore hope that, while respecting their dignity, they will be granted freedom of movement in the host country, the possibility to work and access to the means of telecommunications. For people who decide to return to their country, I emphasize the advisability of developing programs for labor and social reintegration. The International Convention on the Rights of the Child provides a universal legal basis for the protection of migrant minors. It is necessary to avoid any form of detention for them on account of their migratory status, while ensuring that they have regular access to primary and secondary education. In the same way, it is necessary to guarantee them a regular stay when they reach the age of majority and the possibility of continuing their studies. For minors who are unaccompanied or separated from their family, it is important to provide for temporary custody or foster care programmes. In respect of the universal right to a nationality, this must be recognized and duly certified to all boys and girls at the time of their birth. The stateless situation, in which migrants and refugees sometimes find themselves, can be easily avoided through “legislation on citizenship that is in accordance with the fundamental principles of international law”. The migratory situation should not limit access to national health care and social security systems, nor the transfer of the respective contributions in the event of repatriation. where migrants and refugees sometimes find themselves, can be easily avoided through “legislation on citizenship that conforms to the fundamental principles of international law”. The migratory situation should not limit access to national health care and social security systems, nor the transfer of the respective contributions in the event of repatriation. where migrants and refugees sometimes find themselves, can be easily avoided through “legislation on citizenship that conforms to the fundamental principles of international law”. The migratory situation should not limit access to national health care and social security systems, nor the transfer of the respective contributions in the event of repatriation.
Promoting essentially means striving to ensure that all migrants and refugees, as well as the communities that welcome them, are able to fulfill themselves as persons in all the dimensions that make up the humanity willed by the Creator. Among these dimensions, the fair value of the religious dimension is recognized, guaranteeing to all foreigners present in the territory the freedom of profession and practice of religion. Many migrants and refugees have skills that must be properly certified and evaluated. Since “human work, by its nature, is destined to unite peoples”,  I encourage everyone to do everything possible to promote the social and labor integration of migrants and refugees, guaranteeing everyone – including asylum seekers – the possibility to work, language training and active citizenship courses and information appropriate in their original languages. In the case of migrant minors, their involvement in work activities needs to be regulated in order to avoid abuse and threats to their normal growth. In 2006, Benedict XVI underlined how the family, in the migratory context, is “a place and resource of the culture of life and a factor of integration of values”. Their integrity must always be promoted, favoring family reunification – including grandparents, siblings and grandchildren – without ever making it dependent on economic requirements. In the case of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees with disabilities, greater attention and support should be ensured. While I consider the efforts made so far by many countries in terms of international cooperation and humanitarian assistance to be commendable, I hope that, in the distribution of the respective aid, the needs (such as, for example, medical and social assistance and education) are considered. of developing countries that host huge flows of refugees and migrants and also include themselves,
The last verb, to integrate, is situated at the level of opportunities for intercultural enrichment generated by the presence of migrants and refugees. Integration is not “an assimilation, which leads to the suppression or forgetting of one’s cultural identity. Contact with the other leads above all to discover their ‘secret’, to open up to them, in order to welcome their valid aspects and thus contribute to a greater knowledge of each one. It is a long-term process aimed at forming societies and cultures, making them increasingly a reflection of God’s manifold gifts to men.” This process can be accelerated by offering citizenship, irrespective of economic and linguistic requirements, and for extraordinary regularization routes for migrants who have a long stay in the country. I insist once again on the need to promote the culture of encounter in every way, multiplying opportunities for cultural exchange, documenting and disseminating “good practices” of integration and developing programs to prepare local communities for integration processes. It is my heart to underline the special case of foreigners forced to leave the country of immigration because of humanitarian crises.
In accordance with its pastoral tradition, the Church is willing to commit itself, in the first person, to carrying out all the initiatives proposed above, but, in order to obtain the expected results, the contribution of the political community and civil society is indispensable, each according to their own responsibilities.
During the United Nations Summit, held in New York on 19 September 2016, world leaders clearly expressed their willingness to work on behalf of migrants and refugees to save their lives and protect their rights, sharing this responsibility at the global level. global. To this end, States have committed to drafting and approving, by the end of 2018, two global agreements (Global Compacts), one dedicated to refugees and the other referring to migrants.
Dear brothers and sisters, in the light of these processes that have already begun, the coming months will be a privileged opportunity to present and support the concrete actions in which I wanted to combine the four verbs. Therefore, I invite you to take advantage of the various possible occasions to share this message with all the political and social actors involved – or interested in participating – in the process that will lead to the approval of the two global agreements.
This August 15th, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Most Holy Mary into Heaven. The Mother of God personally experienced the harshness of exile (cf. Mt 2:13-15), lovingly accompanied the Son’s journey to Calvary and now shares eternally in his glory. To her maternal intercession we entrust the hopes of all migrants and refugees in the world and the aspirations of the communities that welcome them, so that all, in fulfillment of the supreme divine commandment, may learn to love the other, the foreigner, as ourselves.
Vatican, August 15, 2017
Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
 See Pius XII, Apostolic Constitution Exsul Familia, Titulus Primus, I.
 Francis, Address to Participants at the International Forum “Migration and Peace” (21 February 2017).
 Cf. Intervention by the Permanent Representative of the Holy See at the CIII Session of the Council of the IOM (26 November 2013).
 Francis, Address to Participants at the International Forum “Migration and Peace”.
 Cf. Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate, 47.
 Cf. Intervention by the Permanent Observer of the Holy See at the XX Session of the Council on Human Rights (22 June 2012).
 Cf. Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate, 62.
 Cf. Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, Instruction Erga Migrants Caritas Christi, 6.
 Cf. Benedict XVI, Address to Participants at the Sixth World Congress for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Refugees (9 November 2009).
 Cf. Benedict XVI, Message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees (2010); S. Tomasi, Speech at the XXVI Extraordinary Session of the Council for Human Rights on the human rights of migrants (13 June 2014).
 Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People and Pontifical Council Cor Unum, Welcoming Christ in Refugees and Forced People Uprooted (2013), 70.
 Cf. Paul VI, Encyclical Letter Populorum Progressio, 14.
 John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Centesimus Annus, 27.
 Message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees (2007).
 Cf Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People and Pontifical Council Cor Unum, Welcoming Christ in Refugees and Forced Uprooted People (2013), 30-31.
 John Paul II, Message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2005 (24 November 2004).