Pope Francis made his commitment to migrants a priority on Saturday as he completes a two-day trip to Morocco, where he met with them during a visit to the Caritas center in Rabat and described their suffering as a wound that cries out to heaven.
“We witness many millions of refugees and other forced migrants seeking international protection, to say nothing of the victims of human trafficking and the new forms of enslavement being perpetrated by criminal organizations,” he said in his remarks. “No one can be indifferent to this painful situation.”
The pontiff praised the Global Compact on Migration, which was adopted at a conference in Marrakech in December: “This Compact helps us to see that ‘it is not just about migrants,’ as if their lives and experiences were completely unrelated to the rest of society, or their status as persons with rights was somehow ‘on hold’ because of their current situation.”
He then went on to list four words – accept, protect, promote and integrate – that are critical to making the compact and the migrant journey succeed. That means creating broader pathways for migration, welcoming them to avoid the “merchants of flesh” that exploit them through human trafficking. It also means upholding the human rights and dignity of people in transition while discouraging xenophobia.
Pope Francis made the case for the right not to migrate, one that’s secured by international cooperation on investment and development in countries of origin.
“Ahead of us, then, is a journey we must make together, as true travelling companions,” he said. “It is a journey that engages everyone, migrants and locals, in building cities that are welcoming, respectful of differences and attentive to intercultural processes.”
The pope also met with King Mohammed VI and other officials on Saturday. He’ll complete his visit Sunday with a Mass in Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium in Rabat.