OCEANIA/AUSTRALIA-"The Church does not expect welcome for the migrants only on the part of the government and various institutions, but from its own ranks first of all": pastoral visit of Archbishop Vegliò in Australia

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Canberra (Agenzia Fides) - "Unfortunately, present hardships and ongoing wars and violence drive people out of their countries. Indeed there are times, and quite often in our days, when it becomes necessary to leave one`s homeland. This, too, is a human right, stated in the International Bill of Human Rights. However, whereas the right to emigrate is recognized by civil instruments, this is not so for the right to enter another country where they expect to find a more suitable life for themselves and their families. The only exception in the civil arena consists of those who are fleeing from persecution.” These are the words Archbishop Antonio Maria Vegliò, the President of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, addressed to the Chaplains of migrants and migrant communities who live and work in Australia, during his pastoral visit, which takes place from May 2 to 14.
According to the statement sent to Fides by the Pontifical Council, Archbishop Vegliò went to Australia, accompanied by Under-Secretary, Fr. Gabriele Bentoglio, to accomplish a pastoral visit, coordinated by the Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office(ACMRO), to encourage the Catholic Church in the pastoral for migrants and refugees. Australia has a population of about 21 million inhabitants, of which about 5 million are migrant workers, 22,500 refugees and 2,350 asylum seekers.
In his speech, the Archbishop explained the various ways to help potential migrants to face problems in their countries, so that there is no need for them to leave. Although this requires a sustained commitment to a long process, Bishop Vegliò assured that "it is worth it."
The President of the Pontifical Council for Migrants said that the Church considers the warmth and solidarity towards migrants "an obligation of the more prosperous countries, in consonance with the universal destination of goods", not to mention the fact that "the Church does not expect welcome for the migrants only on the part of the government and various institutions, but from its own ranks first of all. "
Severe immigration laws and restrictive immigration policies, have not discouraged international migration which, in fact, continues to grow. "Such measures have actually helped to increase irregular immigration – highlighted Msgr Vegliò -. When it is difficult to cross a border legally and there is an impelling need to do so, people do not hesitate to attempt unauthorized migration, even at considerable risk, including turning to smugglers of persons.” Migrants in an irregular situation are vulnerable, no one guarantees their human and labour rights, it is easy to exploit and abuse them.” Protecting the rights of irregular migrants would be an important step forward in stopping migrants` abuse and exploitation... that even under these conditions, they conserve the dignity and rights rooted in their humanity," the archbishop stressed.
Immigration guides the Church to countries where Christians are a majority, to make new experience: people who know nothing of Christ, or who have an inadequate understanding are in fact "a new opportunity to spread the word of God ". (S.L.) (Agenzia Fides 04/05/2011)