Pope Francis meeting with migrants at a regional migrant center in Bologna, Italy - archive/Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano
Pope Francis meeting with migrants at a regional migrant center in Bologna, Italy - archive/Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano

In his message for the 51st World Peace Day, Pope Francis noted that ''fomenting fears of migrants sows the seeds of racist violence'' and that migrants should not be sent back to places where they will be persecuted.

Fomenting fears of migrants sows the seeds of racist violence, Pope Francis said Friday in his message for next year's World Day of Peace on January 1, 2018. The message, entitled 'Migrants and Refugees: Men and Women in Search of Peace', is divided into six sections with the first inviting people to embrace those fleeing war, hunger and persecution. The pope also called on government officials to be "prudent and responsible" in treating migrant issues. 

He stressed that migrants must not be pushed back to places of persecution and said migrants are not a threat but an opportunity for a future of peace. "Many destination countries have seen the spread of rhetoric decrying the risks posed to national security or the high cost of welcoming new arrivals, and by doing so demeans the human dignity due to all as sons and daughters of God," Francis said in his message. 

'Do not push back refugees and migrants' 

''Offering asylum seekers, refugees, migrants and victims of human trafficking an opportunity to find the peace they seek requires a strategy combining four actions: welcoming, protecting, promoting and integrating,'' he said. The pope added that 'Welcoming' calls for expanding legal pathways for entry and no longer pushing migrants and displaced people towards countries where they face persecution and violence. It also demands balancing our concerns about national security with concern for fundamental human rights.'' 

''Protecting,'' Pope Francis said, ''as to do with our duty to recognize and defend the inviolable dignity of those who flee real dangers in search of asylum and security, and to prevent their being exploited. I think in particular of women and children who find themselves in situations that expose them to risks and abuses that can even amount to enslavement.'' 

''Promoting,'' he added, ''entails supporting the integral human development of migrants and refugees'' and ''integrating'' means ''means allowing refugees and migrants to participate fully in the life of the society that welcomes them, as part of a process of mutual enrichment and fruitful cooperation in service of the integral human development of the local community''. 

Pope calls on UN to approve global pacts 

In his message, Pope Francis said that ''It is my heartfelt hope this spirit will guide the process that in the course of 2018 will lead the United Nations to draft and approve two Global Compacts, one for safe, orderly and regular migration and the other for refugees. As shared agreements at a global level, these compacts will provide a framework for policy proposals and practical measures. For this reason, they need to be inspired by compassion, foresight and courage, so as to take advantage of every opportunity to advance the peace-building process. Only in this way can the realism required of international politics avoid surrendering to cynicism and to the globalization of indifference.'' 

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