Vatican conference works to understand fears so migrants are integrated in societies

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Concluding their week-long conference by a meeting with Pope Francis, leaders and activists from all over the world gathered at the Vatican-sponsored event on Xenophobia and Racism facing Global Migration.

Pope Francis met them each one-by-one and spoke about feelings of fear and hatred that deem some people unworthy to participate in society. The pope also mentioned that in politics the fears and difficulties of some groups are exploited to make use of illusory promises for short-sighted electoral interests.

The Council of Europe, a human rights and democracy-based organization, shared its joint mission to protect the human dignity of every person. 

Director of Anti-Discrimination, Council of Europe
“What has deepened this crisis, and why we speak, we have conferences all the time about racism, is that obviously there is a climate, an overriding climate of fear that people have. When these fears meet the migrant, the unknown, the diverse, that's when racism is prone to begin. But I think racist people have always been out there and they probably will be.”

Also on an ecumenical level, there are leaders in both Africa and Sweden who are taking concrete steps to help fight the fear surrounding the idea of migrants. 

All Africa Conference of Churches
“We are very much engaged in fighting those feelings of exclusion of others, based on whatever criteria that would be. At the global level, we are part of the ecumenical movement, which is actually engaged in fighting racism. We are saying no, we are the same human beings with the same God and we must keep the dignity and the image of God in every human being.”

Archbishop of the Church of Sweden
“In 2015, Sweden received a huge number of migrants and refugees, especially compared to the number of people in Sweden, and that required civil societies to step forward, and the churches really did. Eighty percent of our congregations got involved with working with newcomers, doing humanitarian stuff, but also social stuff.”

The Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development convened the meeting to share ideas and learn ways that people around the world are working to end these phenomenons. 

Secretary, Dicastery for Human Development
“The first point that we have to do is try to understand the reasons of the situations in Europe, in particular, but also in Africa and in Asia, because it's a very international, very large reality to refuse the other. The first words that Pope Francis uses is to receive, to protect, to promote and to integrate – four verbs, but it's a program we have to develop.”

Pope Francis has demonstrated, in his own way, how he includes migrants at the Vatican, but the Holy See is always looking for more ways to build common ground with leaders of other traditions, especially when it comes to human dignity. 

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