Vatican calls for 'love of Christ towards migrants'
The statement came from Cardinal Stephen Fumio Hamao, president of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples.
Cardinal Hamao said the phenomenon of human mobility has been, at the centre of attention of the Holy See since the last century.
He said that after World War II, the need for assistance to migrants and refugees called for "an authoritative intervention of the Holy See". Pope Pius XII's subsequently issued the Apostolic Constitution Exsul Familia, in 1952. But the Vatican did not establish a dedicated Migration office until 1970.
Council Secretary Archbishop Agostino Marchetto said today's migration constitutes "the most vast movement of persons of all times".
"In these last decades this phenomenon, which now involves more than 200 million people, constitutes a complex, social, cultural, political, economic, religious and pastoral reality," he said.
Archbishop Marchetto said the document gives a context that sheds light on the "great difficulties that migration generally causes in families and individuals, especially women and children".
At the same time, Australia's Catholic Bishops said on Friday that the Government and citizens of Australia must, as a matter of urgency, find alternatives to detention for unaccompanied minors and for children who accompany their parents.
The Bishops, in Plenary Session in Sydney last week, issued the call for a response that is "just, compassionate and consistent with Australia's obligations under International Law and the 1951 United Nations Convention on Refugees and other Conventions to which Australia is a signatory".
Vatican calls for 'love of Christ towards migrants' (Independent Catholic News/Vatican Information Service 17/5/04)
Instruction "The love of Christ towards migrants": Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People (Zenit 14/5/04)
Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People
Bishops stress urgency of search for detention alternatives (CathNews 17/5/04)
18 May 2004