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Child migrants should be 'welcomed and protected,' says Pope Francis

In a letter addressed to a migration conference arranged by Mexico's Foreign Affairs Ministry, Pope Francis spoke out about the need to protect unaccompanied migrant children, awareness campaigns and global action.
By JC Finley   |   July 15, 2014 at 6:31 PM

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VATICAN CITY, July 15 (UPI) -- Pope Francis expressed his thoughts regarding the controversial topic of unaccompanied children migrating north from South America in a letter on Monday addressed to the Mexico/Holy See Colloquium on Migration and Development.

Calling migration a "hallmark of our society" rather than "a circumstantial and sporadic" phenomenon, the pope echoed his World Refugee Day message:

"A change of attitude towards migrants and refugees is needed on the part of everyone, moving away from attitudes of defensiveness and fear, indifference and marginalization -- all typical of a throwaway culture -- towards attitudes based on a culture of encounter, the only culture capable of building a better, more just and fraternal world."

Pope Francis laid out specific measures that he believes should be taken to address the crisis of increasing numbers of unaccompanied migrant children traveling north.

1. Protect the children who have migrated: "This humanitarian emergency requires, as a first urgent measure, these children be welcomed and protected;"

2. Spread awareness: "inform people about the dangers of such a journey;"

3. Develop local economies: "promote development in their countries of origin;"

4. Immigration reform: "this challenge demands the attention of the entire international community so that new forms of legal and secure migration may be adopted."

Apostolic Nuncio Christophe Pierre read the Holy Father's letter to the conference participants. Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican's secretary of state, was also in attendance.

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