THE Roman Catholic Church celebrates World Day of Migrants and Refugees on January 13 every year. The annual celebration was instituted by Pope Pius X in 1914. Migration has become "a striking phenomenon because of the sheer numbers of people in the social, economic, political, cultural and religious spheres it raises, and the dramatic challenges it poses to nations and the international community," Pope Benedict said in his message. Every migrant should be seen as "a human person who...possesses fundamental, inalienable rights that must be respected by everyone and in every circumstance," he added.
To choose to be away from the comfort and security of one's family in order to take on a job elsewhere in the globe driven by the desire to provide a better life and future for one's family takes a lot of faith and hope on the part of the migrant. It is for this reason that the Holy Father has chosen the theme "Migrations: Pilgrimage of Faith and Hope" for this year's celebration of World Day of Migrants and Refugees, seeing faith and hope as "inseparable in the hearts of many migrants." Sustained by their trust in God in whose care they entrust their spouse and children, many migrants are able to endure being separated from their families for months and even years by the hope of being able to secure a better future for their loved ones.
The Church, through the generous help of individuals, volunteer groups, and other concerned organizations, creates programs to address migrants' needs, as it highlights the potential benefits this phenomenon offers to the migrants' family, his country, and the host country. Pope Benedict XVI noted how migrants and refugees experience both welcoming relationships as well as difficulties and how they are able to enrich their host countries with their professional skills, their social and cultural heritage, and their witness of faith.
Today, we honor our Overseas Filipino Workers, who have made and continue to make sacrifices for their families here in the Philippines. May they be steadfast in their faith in God that will give them strength to cope with the emotional, psychological strain, and physical difficulties of being away from their families.
We greet the Vatican, led by His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI and Secretary of State Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone, on the occasion of World Day of Migrants and Refugees. We wish them all the best and success in all their endeavors. MABUHAY!