Pope Benedict XVI released his annual message for the 99th World Day of Migrants and Refugees, which will be celebrated on January 13, 2013. The theme of his message this year is “Migrations: Pilgrimage of Faith and Hope.” The 2013 World Day of Migrants and Refugees celebration coincides with the celebrations of the Year of Faith, the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, and the sixtieth anniversary of Exsul Familia, Pope Pius XII’s Apostolic Constitution on migration.
The Holy Father’s message is incredibly rich and engages many principles of Catholic social teaching – life and dignity of the human person; the call to family, community and participation; rights and responsibilities; the option for the poor and vulnerable; and solidarity. In addition, he engages Catholic social teaching principles related directly to immigration – protection for asylum seekers and refugees; respect for the human rights and dignity of undocumented; the right not to migrate; the right to migrate to support oneself and one’s family; and the right of sovereign nations to control their borders.
The Holy Father reminds us that migration is a testament to the power of faith and hope, which, rooted in trust in God, allows migrants to undertake often difficult journeys that uproot them, separating them from their homes and their loved ones. He underscores the need for the inspired work of the Church in assisting migrants, asylum seekers, and refugees – work such as that which CLINIC and its network of charitable immigration programs provide.
Full integration promotes the human dignity of migrants. The work of CLINIC and its affiliates is one small but vital part of a global phenomenon to assist migrants along their journeys and support their integration into their new communities. Whether offering family reunification, assistance with naturalization, or protection for asylum seekers and victims of abuse and exploitation, CLINIC’s affiliates daily answer the Holy Father’s call to promote the real integration of immigrants and refugees and build solidarity.
Pope Benedict reminds us that migration is not only an opportunity to enrich the migrant and the receiving country but also to enrich the witness of faith for migrants and their new communities. That is to say, migrants’ faith in God and in mankind may be renewed by those who welcome them, and those who welcome migrants may see the face of Christ in those they serve. The Holy Father’s message is an occasion for reflection on the work that we do here at CLINIC.