Pope Calls for Action on ‘Migration Emergency’

VATICAN, September 2, 2008 -Days after would-be illegal immigrants from Africa perished off the coast of Malta, Pope Benedict XVI said migration has become a global emergency that demands solidarity and effective political solutions.

The death of the 78 immigrants is reportedly one of the worst recorded in Malta. The Africans had set sail from Libya on August 21. The small boat found itself in the middle of a storm and capsized.

After reciting the midday Angelus with several thousand people gathered in the courtyard of the papal summer residence at Castel Gandolfo on Sunday, the Holy Father said the tragedy "seemed to surpass previous incidents in terms of the number of victims," ZENIT reported.

"Migration is a phenomenon that has been present from the dawn of human history, and it has always, for this reason, characterized the relations between peoples and nations," he said. "The emergency that migration has become in our times, nevertheless, calls out to us and, while it solicits our solidarity, demands, at the same time, effective political answers."

The pontiff applauded the humanitarian work of various regional, national and international institutions that are addressing the problem of irregular migration.

He also called on the countries of origin to "show a sense of responsibility" and to work to "remove the causes of irregular migration and cut off at the root all of the forms of criminality that are linked to these causes."

Benedict XVI continued: "For their part, European countries, and all other countries that are the destination of immigration, are called to, among other things, develop through consensus initiatives and structures that continue to adapt themselves to the needs of irregular migrants.

"The latter must be made aware, on the one hand, of the value of their own lives, which are a singular good, always precious, that should be safeguarded in the face of the grave risks that the pursuit of better situations exposes them to and, on the other hand, the duty of legality that is imposed on all."

"As the [pope]," he added, "I feel a profound obligation to recall everyone’s attention to this problem and to ask for the generous cooperation of individuals and institutions to deal with it and to find solutions."



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