Pope Francis addressed the global migrant-refugee crisis in his speech to the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See on Monday, urging a focus on human rights, global solidarity and compassion.
The pontiff’s opening remarks stressed the importance of religious freedom and interfaith engagement for peaceful co-existence and the pursuit of the common good.
“Every authentic practice of religion cannot fail to promote peace,” he said. “Only a distorted ideological form of religion can think that justice is done in the name of the Almighty by deliberately slaughtering defenseless persons, as in the brutal terrorist attacks which occurred in recent months in Africa, Europe and the Middle East.”
Francis then shifted his focus to the ongoing migrant-refugee crisis.
He criticized global expressions of the “individualistic spirit” that provides “fertile soil” for indifference toward neighbors in need and causes people to respond in fear and cynicism, seeing others “in purely economic terms.”
These are symptoms of a global “culture of waste,” Francis noted, “which endangers the human person, sacrificing men and women before the idols of profit and consumption” and results in the normalization of poverty.
Instead, “the person and human dignity [should be] at the heart of every humanitarian response,” he emphasized, a goal that the United Nations’ World Humanitarian Summit will pursue in May.
The pope deplored the persistence of human trafficking, “which turns human beings, especially the weakest and most defenseless, into commodities,” another expression of the individualist spirit and culture of waste.
Underlying causes of migration must be addressed, Francis emphasized, including the arms trade, the provision of raw materials and energy, investment, policies of financing and sustainable development and even the grave scourge of corruption.”
Positive responses should include “promoting the development of their countries of origin through policies inspired by solidarity, yet not linking assistance to ideological strategies and practices alien or contrary to the cultures of the peoples being assisted.”
Acknowledging Europe’s overburdened immigration mechanisms and the fears over security, the pontiff implored, “There should be no loss of the values and principles of humanity, respect for the dignity of every person, mutual subsidiarity and solidarity, however much they may prove, in some moments of history, a burden difficult to bear.”
He added, “Migrations, more than ever before, will play a pivotal role in the future of our world, and our response can only be the fruit of a common effort respectful of human dignity and the rights of persons.”
The full papal address is available here.