Do all you can for persons forced to leave their countries, Pope Francis tells ICMC Council

Vatican City, 8 March 2018 - "I would like to reaffirm that the cause of this organization is the cause of Christ himself," said His Holiness Pope Francis, addressing the Council of the International Catholic Migration Commission at the Vatican today.

"Today as in the past, liberating the poor, the oppressed and the persecuted is an integral part of the mission entrusted by God to the Church," Pope Francis said, and added: "The work of your Commission represents a tangible expression of this important missionary commitment."

Pope Francis meets ICMC Council members, Vatican City, March 2018Pope Francis greets ICMC Council members: "Today as in the past, liberating the poor, the oppressed and the persecuted is an integral part of the mission entrusted by God to the Church." Pope Francis expressed the hope that "this work will continue to inspire local Churches to do all they can for persons forced to leave their home countries and who, all too often, become victims of dishonesty, violence and abuse of every sort."

"We take this opportunity to thank you for the clear teaching you have shared with us, both through words and deeds, to welcome, protect, promote and integrate migrants and refugees in all parts of the world," said His Eminence John Cardinal Njue, addressing Pope Francis on behalf of the Council members.

Composed of representatives of national Catholic Bishops' Conferences as well as national-level Catholic coordinating structures and specialized agencies serving refugees and migrants, the ICMC Council met in Rome from 6-8 March 2018. It was received in private audience by Pope Francis on the morning of 8 March.

The gathering spent three days "engaged in a sincere reflection on the challenges and the pain faced by many migrants and refugees in today's world," Cardinal Njue said in his address. "We also recognized the talents and contributions brought by such persons, both to the countries and populations that receive them as well as to the families and communities in their countries of origin," he added. 

Pope Francis highlighted the importance of the negotiations towards global agreements on refugees and on migration being carried out by the international community. These processes are "a privileged forum" to implement an "open and sincere dialogue with government leaders."

Such a dialogue is essential "to set free those who today are oppressed, rejected and enslaved," Pope Francis said. "Together we must encourage countries to coordinate more suitable and effective responses to the challenges posed by issues of migration."

Pope Francis concluded by encouraging ICMC Council members to continue pursuing the organization's mission: "I ask the Holy Spirit to continue enlightening all of you, as you carry out your vital mission showing forth God's merciful love to our migrant brothers and sisters."

At its Rome meeting, the ICMC Council elected Dr. Anne Therese Gallagher, an Australian-born lawyer, practitioner and scholar whose experience spans more than 25 years, as the Commission's President. It also appointed a 14-member Governing Committee and ratified its Secretary General Msgr. Robert J. Vitillo. The Council adopted a Strategic Framework for 2019-2022 for ICMC and its members.

The agenda of the gathering dedicated several sessions to debate how best to serve migrants and refugees. The key panel discussions and presentations can be watched on social media (Facebook and YouTube).