Catholic Church Welcomes International Accords on Migration and Refugees
Geneva, 7 December 2018 - The Catholic Church has given its strong support to the UN Global Compacts on Migration and Refugees.
In a 3 December letter from the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, the Holy See welcomed the landmark international accords. It also re-affirmed the Catholic Church’s support for collective, integral responses to human mobility.
At the September 2016 UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants, UN Member States committed to developing two Global Compacts – one to ensure Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration and the other urging shared responsibility for Refugees.
The Catholic backing for the accords comes in the run-up to a milestone UN conference in Marrakesh, Morocco, on 10-11 December where governments are to adopt the Global Compact on Migration (GCM). The Vatican is sending an official delegation.
A Global Compact on Refugees (GCR) was approved by the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly in New York on 13 November. It is to be submitted to the General Assembly for adoption before the end of the year.
According to the Holy See, the GCM has been “an important exercise in multilateralism,” urging greater cooperation and responsibility-sharing. A “toolkit” for States and civil society to take action at different levels, the GCM outlines objectives that reflect universal values as it seeks to address migration in a collective way.
The Catholic Church has been involved in development of the two international frameworks from the beginning of the two-year process, note Fr Fabio Baggio and Fr Michael Czerny, Under-Secretaries of the Migrants and Refugees Section, in their December letter.
As a result, principles and proposals laid out in the Holy See’s 20 Action Points for the Global Compacts are reflected in the accords, in particular in 15 of the GCM’s 23 objectives.
Though it is not legally binding, the under-secretaries welcome the platform for action provided by the document’s proposals, examples of effective policies and best practices – and commit the Church to being at the forefront of action to implement it.
“With our holistic approach of welcoming, protecting, promoting and integrating vulnerable people on the move, as well as nourishing them spiritually, the Church has much to offer in the vast and complex area of human mobility,” they underline, highlighting Pope Francis’ “four verbs” approach.
It is hoped that the Global Compacts “will favor a different narrative” about migration, one that lifts up its positive impacts, adds the Vatican’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, who is leading the Holy See’s Marrakesh delegation.
Members of the network of national Catholic Bishops Conferences and other Catholic-inspired institutions convened by the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC) have joined the Holy See in affirming their commitment to the Global Compacts.
In a statement on 3 December, the President of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE) expressed support for the GCM as the “fruit of a vast negotiation”. Archbishop Jean-Claude Hollerich emphasized that the Catholic Church in Europe affirms its shared responsibility for migrants and refugees in European societies.
“COMECE encourages the Member States of the European Union to make this Global Compact an achievement for the common good of a shared humanity,” the statement reads.
At present, ten UN Member States – Australia. Austria, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Poland, Slovakia and the United States – are choosing not to adopt the GCM. In light of this, the Holy See expresses the Catholic Church’s commitment to remain engaged on behalf of uprooted people in these countries in particular.
“The ultimate objective, of course, is the integral human development of everyone: migrants, refugees, their community of origin and their new one,” say Fr Baggio and Fr Czerny.
ICMC has continued to play a leading role in coordinating civil society advocacy – including involvement of Catholic institutions – to UN Member States in the Global Compact processes.