Holy Father’s Message to Solidarity Event

30th Anniversary of Central American Integration System

Holy Father’s Message to Solidarity Event
Copyright: Vatican Media
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Here is a translation of the message that the Holy Father Francis sent to the participants in the Solidarity Event organized June 10, 2021, in Costa Rica, on the 30th anniversary of the Central American Integration System.

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The Holy Father’s Message

 Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen:

I greet warmly the participants in the Solidarity Event, organized on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Central American Integration System, in which the Holy See has taken part as an extra-regional Observer since the year 2012. This initiative is geared to mobilize support to improve the situation of the forcibly displaced and of the communities that receive them in the region of Central America and Mexico.

The word solidarity, which is at the center of this event, acquires even greater meaning in this time of pandemic crisis, a crisis that has tested the whole world, both poor as well as rich countries.

The health, economic and social crisis caused by COVID-19 has reminded all that human beings are like dust, but valuable dust in God’s eyes,[1] who made us a single human family.[2] And just as the natural family educates to fidelity, sincerity, cooperation, and respect, promoting the planning of a habitable world and to believe in relationships of trust, including in difficult conditions, the family of nations is also called to direct its common attention to all, especially the littlest and vulnerable members, without yielding to the logic of competition and private interests.[3]

In these months of the pandemic, the Central American region has witnessed the deterioration of social conditions that were already precarious and complex due to an unjust economic system. This system wears out the family,[4] basic cell of society. And so, people “without a home, without a family, without a community, without belonging,”[5] are uprooted and orphaned, at the mercy of “highly conflictive situations of not rapid solution: domestic violence, femicides  — […] –, armed and criminal gangs, drug trafficking, sexual exploitation of minors and of not so minors.”[6] These factors, mixed with the pandemic and with a climate crisis characterized by ever more intense drought and ever more frequent hurricanes, have given human mobility the connotation of a mass forced phenomenon so that it acquires the appearance of a regional exodus.

Despite the innate sense of hospitality, inherent in the peoples of Central America, the health restrictions have influenced the closing of many borders. Many remained halfway, without the possibility to advance or go back.

The pandemic has also made manifest the fragility of the internally displaced, who still “don’t enter in the international protection system that international legislation provides in the matter of refugees”[7], and often they remain without adequate protection.

Moreover, in the different phases of displacement, both internal as well as external, there is a growing number of cases of human trafficking, trafficking that is a wound in the body of contemporary humanity, a wound in Christ’s flesh, it is a crime against humanity.”[8]

Excellencies, Ladies, and Gentlemen:

What I have presented here are some of the most important challenges that affect human mobility, a phenomenon that has characterized the human being’s history and that “brings with it great promises[9] for the future of humanity.

In this context, while affirming the exclusive right of States to manage their borders, the Holy see hopes for a common, solid, and coordinated commitment, geared to putting the person and his dignity at the center of all political exercise. In fact, “the principle of the centrality of the human person […] obliges to put personal security before national security. […] The conditions of emigrants, asylum seekers and refugees, require that they have personal security guaranteed and access to basic services.”[10]

In addition to these protections, it’s necessary to adopt specific international mechanisms, which give concrete protection and acknowledge the “often invisible drama” of the internally displaced, relegated “to a second plane in national political agendas.”[11]

Similar measures must be taken in regard to our numerous brothers and sisters that are obliged to flee due to the advent of the grave climate crisis.[12] These measures must be accompanied by regional protection policies for our “Common Home,” geared to palliate both the climatic phenomena as well as the environmental disasters caused by man in his endeavor of cornering lands, deforestation, and appropriation of water.  These violations attempt gravely against the three fundamental realms of integral human development: land, housing, and work.[13]

In regard to human trafficking, this scourge must be prevented through the support of families and education, and victims must be protected with programs that guarantee their safety, “the protection of intimacy, safe lodging, and adequate social and psychological assistance.”[14] Very small children and women deserve special attention: “Women are the source of life. However, they are continually offended, beaten, violated, induced to prostitute themselves and eliminate the life they bear in their womb. All violence inflicted on women is a profanation of God, born of a woman.”[15] As Saint John Paul II said, “woman cannot become an ‘object’ of ‘domination’ and of masculine ‘possession.’” [16] We are all called to support an education that promotes the fundamental equality, respect, and honor that women deserve.

The pandemic has caused an “unprecedented educational crisis,[17] aggravated by the restrictions and forced isolation which have manifested the existing inequalities, and the risk has increased that the most vulnerable fall into the treacherous trafficking networks inside and outside national borders. In face of the new challenges, international collaboration must be intensified to prevent trafficking, to protect the victims, and to pursue the delinquents. This synergic action will be benefitted in great measure with the participation of religious organizations and local Churches, which not only offer humanitarian aid to the victims but also spiritual accompaniment. In times of incommensurable suffering caused by the pandemic, by violence, and by environmental disasters, the spiritual dimension cannot and must not be relegated to a secondary position in regard to physical health. “The condition to build inclusive societies lies in an integral understanding of the human person, who feels truly accepted when all the dimensions that make up his identity, including the religious, are recognized and accepted.”[18]

Excellencies, Ladies, and Gentlemen:

In face of so many urgent challenges, applied also to this region is the sincere appeal to build a “human and fraternal “ society [. . .] capable of  being concerned to guarantee, in an efficient and stable way, that all are accompanied in the course of their lives.”[19] It is about a joint effort that goes beyond national borders to make possible regional exchange: “The cultural, economic and political integration with neighboring peoples should be accompanied by an educational process that promotes the value of love of neighbor, first indispensable exercise    to achieve a healthy universal integration.”[20]

Multilateral cooperation is a valuable tool to promote the common good, paying special attention to the profound and new causes of forced displacements, so that “borders are not zones of tension, but open arms of reconciliation.”[21] Today “we face […] the choice between one of the two possible paths: one leads to the strengthening of multilateralism […], the other, gives preference to self-sufficient attitudes, nationalism, protectionism, individualism, and isolation, leaving the poorest, the most vulnerable, the inhabitants of the existential peripheries outside.”[22]

The Church walks with the peoples of Central America, who have been able to address the crisis with courage and be welcoming communities,[23] and she exhorts them to persevere in solidarity with mutual trust and intrepid hope.

I give you my heartfelt thanks and I invoke upon you and on the nations you represent the Lord’s blessing.

Vatican, June 5, 2021

Francis

 [1] Cf. Benedict XVI, General Audience, (February 17, 2010).

[2] Cf. Conc. Ecu. Vt. II, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, 13.

[3] Cf. General Audience (October 7, 2015).

[4] Cf. Meeting with the Central American Bishops (SEDAC) (January 24, 2019).

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Dicastery for the Service of Integral Human Development – Migrants and Refugees Section, Pastoral Guidelines on the Internally Displaced (2020).

[8] Address to the Participants in the International Conference on Human Trafficking (April 10, 2014).

[9] Message on the Occasion of the Mexico-Holy See Colloquium on Human Mobility and Development (July 14, 2014). 

[10] Message for the 104th World Day of Migrants and Refugees (January 14, 2018).

[11] Message for the 106th World Day of Migrants and Refugees (May 14, 2020).

[12] Cf. Dicastery for the Service of Integral Human Development – Migrants and Refugees Section, Pastoral Guidelines on the Climatically Displaced (2021).

[13] Cf. Address to the Participants in the World Meeting of Popular Movements (October 28, 2014).

[14] Dicastery for the Service of Integral Human Development – Migrants and Refugees Section, Pastoral Guidelines on Human Trafficking

[15] Homily (January 1, 2020).

[16] Apostolic Letter Mulieris Dignitatem (August 15, 1988).

[17] Video-Message for the Launching of the 4.7 Mission and the Educational Pact (December 16, 20200.

[18] Address to the Members of the Diplomatic Corps Accredited to the Holy See  (January 8, 2018).

[19] Encyclical Letter Fratelli Tutti (October 3, 2020), 110.

[20] Ibid., 151.

[21] Saint John Paul II, Homily (March 6, 1983).

[22] Video-Message on the Occasion of the 75th United National General Assembly (September 25, 2020).

[23] Cf. Message for the 107th World Day of Migrants and Refugees (May 3, 2021).

© Libreria Editrice Vatican

Translation by Virginia M. Forrester

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