Pope challenges world leaders with new migration call

18 August 2017

Pope and Refugee crisis. Pope Francis meets refugees and migrants in Rome.

Thank you for joining Pope Francis and taking part in the share the journey campaign. Credit: L'Osservatore Romano

Pope Francis has given a new message, challenging world leaders to do more for the protection of refugees and migrants.

The Holy Father’s call to leaders comes as the Vatican publishes one of the most politically and policy charged documents it has ever produced. The guidance for governments – titled Responding to Refugees and Migrants: Twenty Action Points – lays out a roadmap on how states should approach the issue.

The Vatican hopes this will galvanise action in the same way as the Pope’s 2015 Laudato Si’ encyclical did on climate change.

Read the Pope’s message in full

The Church's intervention is deliberately timed to make a political impact. There are just over 12 months to go before governments are due to agree two global ‘compacts’ on refugees and migration at the UN General Assembly in September 2018. So far little progress has been made amongst leaders on how to tackle the issue – despite it being one of the biggest challenges faced by the global community.

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The guidance has been published by the Vatican’s department or ‘section’ on migrants and refugees. The section, which was set up by Francis in 2016, sits directly under the Pope’s personal direction. This is an indication of how central the issue is to him.

Pray for people on the move

The Pope's challenge to world leaders

The Pontiff insists that migrants and refugees should be helped at every stage of migration. This includes the point of departure and the journey across borders. It also includes helping people who have arrived in host countries. Many people in host countries live in poverty and with have few rights to access services or lawful work.

More than 56% of the world’s displaced people are living in Africa and the Middle East, with just 17% in Europe.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees

The action points in the Pope's document lay out specific proposals from the Church for governments to consider. These range from the creation of humanitarian corridors for people fleeing conflict to providing access to work and education for refugees.

The manifesto also calls for greater support for countries which have borne the lion’s share of migrants, many of which suffer from high levels of poverty themselves.

Graham Gordon, CAFOD Head of Policy, said: “This is one of the greatest crises of the century so far. Not for the first time, the Pope is reminding politicians that history will judge whether they rise to the challenge or abdicate their responsibilities.”

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Pope’s track record of challenging politicians on migration

The intervention is the latest in a series of challenges from the Pope to politicians.

Francis lambasted the “globalisation of indifference” on the island of Lampedusa, where thousands of migrants have landed, in his first visit outside Rome as Pope. On a visit to Kenya in November 2015, Francis said the world’s response to the refugee crisis would be “a test of our humanity”.

Church action on refugees

Graham Gordon, CAFOD Head of Policy, said:

“The Church worldwide is committed to sharing the journey of people on the move, whether they are leaving, arriving, settling or returning. Inspired by Pope Francis’ leadership, CAFOD partners in the world’s poorest countries, along with Church organisations and CAFOD supporters here in England and Wales are among those reaching out right now with compassion and practical help. But it’s necessary for governments to play their part.”

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