Conference at Boston College examines problem of forced migration

BOSTON (CNS) — Today, 200 million people live in a country different from the one where they were born, and 26 to 30 million of them were forced from their homeland by adverse conditions beyond their control, a Vatican representative told a Boston conference. “Everyone is moving from everywhere to everywhere,” said Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican representative to U.N. agencies in Geneva. “Human mobility in all its facets is not a new phenomenon,” nor has the church ignored it, he said at the conference on the causes of forced migration and systemic responses to it. The archbishop said the modern history of church teachings on refugees began with the social justice expressed in Pope Leo XIII’s 1891 encyclical, “Rerum Novarum,” with his words: “Men would cling to the country in which they were born, for no one would exchange his country for a foreign land if his own afforded him the means of living a decent and happy life.” This teaching was expanded by later popes. Almost all nations accept the right of an individual to leave, but the church is almost alone in asserting the individual’s right of entry, he said. Archbishop Tomasi’s address was one of 12 papers delivered at the Nov. 20-23 conference at the Boston College Center for Human Rights and International Justice.

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