Pope Francis’s message for the 109th World Day of Migrants and Refugees published by the Vatican Press Office on Thursday, May 11, highlights the freedom to choose whether to migrate or to stay in one’s native land.
In his message titled “Free to choose whether to migrate or to stay,” Pope Francis said, “The migratory flows of our times are the expression of a complex and varied phenomenon that, to be properly understood, requires a careful analysis of every aspect of its different stages, from departure to arrival, including the possibility of return.”
For this reason, the Pope decided to “devote the Message for the 109th World Day of Migrants and Refugees to the freedom that should always mark the decision to leave one’s native land.”
He said, “Free to leave, free to stay, was the title of an initiative of solidarity promoted several years ago by the Italian Episcopal Conference as a concrete response to the challenges posed by contemporary migration movements.”
In the message, Pope Francis refers to the “flight of the Holy Family into Egypt”, which “was not the result of a free decision, nor were many of the migrations that marked the history of the people of Israel.”
“The decision to migrate should always be free, yet in many cases, even in our day, it is not. Conflicts, natural disasters, or more simply the impossibility of living a dignified and prosperous life in one’s native land is forcing millions of persons to leave,” said Pope Francis in the message for the 109th World Day of Migrants and Refugees which the Church observes on the last Sunday of September.
“To make migration a choice that is truly free, efforts must be made to ensure to everyone an equal share in the common good, respect for his or her fundamental rights, and access to an integral human development,” he added.
He added, “The principal responsibility falls to the countries of origin and their leaders, who are called to practice a good politics – one that is transparent, honest, farsighted and at the service of all, especially those most vulnerable.”
The Pope further said, “Where circumstances make possible a decision either to migrate or to stay, there is a need to ensure that the decision be well informed and carefully considered, in order to avoid great numbers of men, women and children falling victim to perilous illusions or unscrupulous traffickers.”
Pope Francis recalled the Synod on Synodality saying “The synodal path that we have undertaken as a Church leads us to see in those who are most vulnerable – among whom are many migrants and refugees – special companions on our way, to be loved and cared for as brothers and sisters. Only by walking together will we be able to go far and reach the common goal of our journey.”
Pope Francis concluded his message with the following prayer:
God, Father Almighty,
grant us the grace to work tirelessly
for justice, solidarity, and peace,
so that all Your children may enjoy
the freedom to choose whether to migrate or to stay.
Grant us the courage to denounce
all the horrors of our world,
and to combat every injustice
that mars the beauty of Your children
and the harmony of our common home.
Sustain us by the power of Your Spirit,
so that we can reflect Your tender love
to every migrant whom You place in our path,
and to spread in hearts and in every situation
the culture of encounter and of care.