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Holy See joins International Organisation for Migration

VATICAN ( : The Holy See has become a full member of the International Organisation for Migration, an intergovernmental body founded in 1951. It joins 132 member states and 97 states and organisations that have observer status.

Pope Benedict XVI mentioned the 16th anniversary of the organisation following his December 4 Angelus address and entrusted to the Lord those forced to leave their countries.

“We are currently witnessing a huge increase in migration, in the number of people leaving their country of origin for various reasons,” said Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, a leading Holy See diplomat.

“It is important to be present and participate in the efforts of the international community to make our specific contribution. Leaders of the International Organisation for Migration see the Holy See as a voice capable of giving an ethical dimension to the phenomenon and how it is approached.”

The Italian archbishop added, “We have, for example, many people who die in the attempt to escape from their country, from Mexico to the United States of America, from North Africa to Europe, from Africa across the Red Sea to Yemen.”

He stressed, “It is important, therefore, that the Holy See has decided to join this organisation in order to emphasise its involvement in this phenomenon of great global importance and one which, despite the economic crisis, is expected to continue to grow.”

On December 12, the Vatican spokesperson, Father Federico Lombardi, said, “The economic crisis does not diminish the problems of migration, but only worsens them from different points of view and so the flow of men and women who leave their countries under the pressure of poverty, oppression or natural disaster, even at risk to life… continues and will continue to continue.”

He said that serious question must be asked, like, “How can they be protected, how can they be welcomed, how can they be given the opportunity for a safe and dignified life, so that they are seen not as a threat, but as forerunners and bridge-builders in the melting pot of the global community?”

He explained that the Holy See regards the defence of migrants’ rights as being based on the dignity of the human person. “But it speaks too from the real world experience of many Catholic organisations that operate in this field on every continent, giving weight and credibility to its words and its proposals,” Father Lombardi continued.

“We must give migrants the opportunity to live and to thrive, working together with them to build a common future,” he concluded.