Pope: The choice to migrate or stay is a fundamental human right

Pope Francis reiterates the importance of having the freedom of either staying or leaving one's country, as well as that of being welcomed wherever one goes.

Sep 25, 2023

(File Photo): Pope Francis greets a young migrant during his visit to Mytilene Refugee Camp in 2021 (Vatican Media)

By Francesca Merlo
Following the recitation of the Angelus prayer on 24 September, Pope Francis marked World Migrant and Refugee Day, echoing his message on the fundamental importance of the right to choose whether to migrate or to stay in one's homeland.

The theme for this year's celebration, "Free to choose whether to migrate or to stay," underscores the critical need for migration to be a voluntary and dignified choice, rather than a desperate necessity.

The fundamental human right to migrate

Pope Francis noted that “the right to migrate, a fundamental human right, has for many become an obligation driven by dire circumstances." He stressed that there should exist an equally essential right not to migrate, affirming the right of individuals to remain in their own lands while enjoying a life of dignity and fulfillment.

"The current global landscape is marred by suffering, conflict, and the devastating impacts of the climate crisis, forcing countless people to abandon their homes and seek refuge elsewhere," said the Pope. He acknowledged this grim reality and called upon all individuals and nations to unite in solidarity and compassion, striving to create communities that are not only prepared but eager to welcome, support, guide, and integrate those who arrive at their doors seeking refuge and solace.

An echo from Marseille
The Holy Father noted that this appeal resonates with the recent "Rencontres Méditerranéennes" (Mediterranean Meetings) held in Marseille over the last past. Pope Francis attended the concluding session of this meeting during his journey to the southern French city, from 22-23 September.

During his participation in the Rencontres Méditerranéennes, Pope Francis engaged in extensive discussions and dialogues centered around the challenges and opportunities posed by migration, particularly in the Mediterranean region. "The Mediterranean has historically been a melting pot of cultures and civilisations," Pope Francis stressed during the conference.

"In these challenging times," Pope Francis said during his visit, "let us embrace the spirit of empathy and unity, welcoming those who seek refuge with open hearts and minds." --Vatican News

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