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Pope: Rights of migrants trump national security concerns

Pope Francis visits the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, on Nov. 25, 2014. Photo courtesy of European Union 2014 - European Parliament/Fred Marvaux

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis urged countries to greatly improve their welcome to migrants and stop collective expulsions, saying migrants’ dignity and right to protection trumps national security concerns.

Francis’ politically pointed message was made on Monday (Aug. 21) in view of the Catholic Church’s 2018 world refugee day, celebrated Jan. 14. It comes amid mounting anti-immigrant sentiment in Europe and beyond after waves of migrant arrivals and Islamic extremist attacks.

In the message, Francis demanded governments welcome, protect, promote and integrate migrants, saying Jesus’ message of love is rooted in welcoming the “rejected strangers of every age.”

He demanded a simplified process of granting humanitarian and temporary visas and rejected arbitrary and collective expulsions as “unsuitable.” He said the principle of ensuring each person’s dignity “obliges us to always prioritize personal safety over national security.”

Francis has made refugees a priority of his pontificate, making his first trip outside Rome in 2013 to the island of Lampedusa, ground zero in Europe’s migration crisis. He has repeatedly spoken out for migrants’ rights, demanded countries build “bridges not walls,” and personally brought a dozen Syrian refugees back to Rome with him when he visited a Greek refugee camp in 2016.

Ignoring critics who say his calls are unrealistic and naive, Francis insisted in the new message that border guards must be trained to protect migrants and that each new arrival, regardless of legal status, must be guaranteed access to basic services beyond health care.

That extends to guaranteeing access to consulates, the justice system and the ability to open a bank account and survive financially, he said.

Unaccompanied minors, he said, require even greater protection, including guaranteeing them citizenship and access to schooling, as well as foster programs rather than detention centers.

He called for policies that support family reunification, employment opportunities and accelerated citizenship procedures to improve migrants’ abilities to integrate.

His call was immediately rejected by the leader of Italy’s anti-immigrant Northern League party, which has opposed government proposals to change Italy’s law to accelerate citizenship for children born in Italy to non-Italians.

“If you want to do it in the Vatican, go ahead,” Matteo Salvini wrote on Facebook. “But as a Catholic, I don’t think Italy can welcome and support the whole world.”

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Nicole Winfield

8 Comments

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  • Ah no they don’t.

    Why don’t these people just come out and be honest with this social engineering that they are pushing. These cultural experiments where safety is now not a concern is a clear indication that this is not about welcoming the immigrant. So have the grapes to come out and state what the objective really is here rather than dance around it, call it something that it isn’t.

    One thing I know for certain being a catholic myself, anything coming out of the vatican has a hidden agenda they won’t tell you about. Therefore how can I or anyone else support what ever they say or want.

  • Last November 1, Pope Francis praised the “prudence” of leaders who put limits on accommodation, because “there is not room for all. The pope recognizes that “every country has the right to control its borders,” as he told Spanish newspaper El País in January.

  • when is the pope ever going to be true to ELOHEEM and/or THEIR Son? about obeying the laws of the nation, you are in. i, have no need for any pope teaching blasphemy and treason.

  • very interesting, and i think you have a valid point that we cannot ignore the crimes that are committed by some refugees, too many to be sure. but i think you are reading too much into this. the sight of those dead children on beaches and stories of boatloads of people drowning and the miserable conditions in refugee camps are motivating people more than any social experiment. i am working with groups in usa to try to bring refugees here and i can assure you we are not trying to remake anyone, just rescue innocent people from horrible conditions, some of which the us is responsible for because of the stupid, even criminal policies our government has followed in the ME in the last two decades. Europe is paying too high a price for our mistakes.

  • Does the Pope include the Vatican City among the nations he says should admit unlimited number. The last time I was in the Vatican City I noted there were large gardens and many rooms that could accommodate several thousands of migrants. But I suppose the Vatican City is an exception.

  • “In the message, Francis demanded governments welcome, protect, promote and integrate migrants, saying Jesus’ message of love is rooted in welcoming the “rejected strangers of every age.”

    He demanded a simplified process of granting humanitarian and temporary visas and rejected arbitrary and collective expulsions as “unsuitable.” He said the principle of ensuring each person’s dignity “obliges us to always prioritize personal safety over national security.”

    First of all, I fully agree with Jesus’ message that (His) “love is rooted in welcoming the rejected strangers of every age.” That is a message for individuals and churches, not to be shoe-horned by this pope into government deliberations about neglecting the protection of their borders.

    Second, rather than this very-political pope trotting around the globe to grab for the spotlights and microphones, he might consider staying home and ministering to the “rejected strangers of THIS age,” whose psyches were seriously bruised and damaged by the pedophelia which was ignored by this pope and his predecessor.

    Third, this headline-seeking pope can shake his finger in our faces and tell us that “each person’s dignity“obliges us to always prioritize personal safety over national security.” That’s because his little fiefdom called the Vatican is protected militarily by the strong arm of the US military, protection that is supported by US taxpayer!

    As one of those US taxpayers, I demand that this pope quit the politikking and get back to the messy business of preaching and living the Gospel of Christ, and making sure his priests and bishops do the same–PLEASE!

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