ROME — The Vatican’s foreign minister said this week that “history is made of migrations” while insisting that migration has always been a good thing for humanity.
Speaking at a conference titled “Building Europe Together” at the University of Strasbourg, the Holy See Secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Paul R. Gallagher, said that migrants are “our brothers and sisters who seek a better life far from poverty, hunger, exploitation, and the unjust distribution of the resources of the planet, which should be divided equally among all.”
“In the history of peoples, migration has always been a good for humanity,” the archbishop stated. “Over the past centuries, there have been migrations linked to conquests, but also to deportation. The occupations have always resulted in a multitude of victims and devastation. Civilizations and cultures have often been wiped out and new ones built.”
“The fact remains that history is made of migrations,” he said. “And migrations are also part of our contemporary and modern history; they affect in particular many countries of our dear Europe.”
The archbishop said it is critical to address the problems in migrants’ countries of origin, in order to stem the conflicts and violence that drive people to leave their countries.
The goal of immigration should not be “assimilation” in the sense of a renouncement of one’s identity in order to assume the identity of the host country, he said, but nor should immigrants close themselves off from their new surroundings. The goal should rather be a reciprocal enrichment between the various “worlds” that migration brings into contact.
A danger exists, however, of creating “an amorphous society, deprived of ideals” based on the lowest common denominator, the archbishop said.
“There is also the very real danger that the phenomenon of migration will take place in a savage manner and become a breeding ground for human trafficking, the exploitation of the migrants themselves and their recruitment into criminal groups,” the archbishop said.
Speaking at the same conference, Father Fabio Baggio, the undersecretary of the Vatican’s Migrants and Refugees Section, praised the U.N.’s two Global Compacts, one on “safe, orderly and regular migration” (GCM), and the other on refugees (GCR).
The Vatican is convinced that “the two Global Compacts represent a historic advance in our shared responsibility to act in solidarity in favor of people on the move, especially those who find themselves in very precarious situations and those forced to leave,” he said.
Moreover, welcoming migrants “means offering broader options for migrants and refugees to enter destination countries safely and legally,” he said.