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Pope Francis’ Message for the 109th World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2023


(24 September 2023)


Free to choose whether to migrate or to stay

Dear brothers and sisters!

The migratory flows of our times are the expression of a complex and varied phenomenon that, to be properly understood, requires a careful analysis of every aspect of its different stages, from departure to arrival, including the possibility of return. As a contribution to this effort, I have chosen to devote the Message for the 109th World Day of Migrants and Refugees to the freedom that should always mark the decision to leave one’s native land.

“Free to leave, free to stay” was the title of an initiative of solidarity promoted several years ago by the Italian Episcopal Conference as a concrete response to the challenges posed by contemporary migration movements.  From attentive listening to the Particular Churches, I have come to see that ensuring that that freedom is a widely shared pastoral concern.

“An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said: ‘Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him” (Mt 2:13). The flight of the Holy Family into Egypt was not the result of a free decision, nor were many of the migrations that marked the history of the people of Israel. The decision to migrate should always be free, yet in many cases, even in our day, it is not. Conflicts, natural disasters, or more simply the impossibility of living a dignified and prosperous life in one’s native land is forcing millions of persons to leave. Already in 2003, Saint John Paul II stated that “as regards migrants and refugees, building conditions of peace means in practice being seriously committed to safeguarding first of all the right not to emigrate, that is, the right to live in peace and dignity in one’s own country” (Message for the 90th World Day of Migrants and Refugees, 3).

“They took their livestock and the goods that they had acquired in the land of Canaan, and they came into Egypt, Jacob and all his offspring with him” (Gen 46:6). A grave famine forced Jacob and his entire family to seek refuge in Egypt, where his son Joseph ensured their survival. Persecutions, wars, atmospheric phenomena and dire poverty are among the most visible causes of forced migrations today. Migrants flee because of poverty, fear or desperation. Eliminating these causes and thus putting an end to forced migration calls for shared commitment on the part of all, in accordance with the responsibilities of each. This commitment begins with asking what we can do, but also what we need to stop doing. We need to make every effort to halt the arms race, economic colonialism, the plundering of other people’s resources and the devastation of our common home.

“All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need” (Acts 2:44-45). The ideal of the first Christian community seems so distant from today’s reality! To make migration a choice that is truly free, efforts must be made to ensure to everyone an equal share in the common good, respect for his or her fundamental rights, and access to an integral human development. Only in this way will we be able to offer to each person the possibility of a dignified and fulfilling life, whether individually or within families. Clearly, the principal responsibility falls to the countries of origin and their leaders, who are called to practice a good politics – one that is transparent, honest, farsighted and at the service of all, especially those most vulnerable. At the same time, they must be empowered to do this, without finding themselves robbed of their natural and human resources and without outside interference aimed at serving the interests of a few. Where circumstances make possible a decision either to migrate or to stay, there is a need to ensure that the decision be well informed and carefully considered, in order to avoid great numbers of men, women and children falling victim to perilous illusions or unscrupulous traffickers.

“In this year of jubilee you shall return, every one of you, to your property” (Lev 25:13). For the people of Israel, the celebration of the jubilee year represented an act of collective justice: “everyone was allowed to return to their original situation, with the cancellation of all debts, restoration of the land, and an opportunity once more to enjoy the freedom proper to the members of the People of God” (Catechesis, 10 February 2016). As we approach the Holy Year of 2025, we do well to remember this aspect of the jubilee celebrations. Joint efforts are needed by individual countries and the international community to ensure that all enjoy the right not to be forced to emigrate, in other words, the chance to live in peace and with dignity in one’s own country. This right has yet to be codified, but it is one of fundamental importance, and its protection must be seen as a shared responsibility on the part of all States with respect to a common good that transcends national borders. Indeed, since the world’s resources are not unlimited, the development of the economically poorer countries depends on the capacity for sharing that we can manage to generate among all countries. Until this right is guaranteed – and here we are speaking of a long process – many people will still have to emigrate in order to seek a better life.

“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me” (Mt 25:35-36). These words are a constant admonition to see in the migrant not simply a brother or sister in difficulty, but Christ himself, who knocks at our door. Consequently, even as we work to ensure that in every case migration is the fruit of a free decision, we are called to show maximum respect for the dignity of each migrant; this entails accompanying and managing waves of migration as best we can, constructing bridges and not walls, expanding channels for a safe and regular migration. In whatever place we decide to build our future, in the country of our birth or elsewhere, the important thing is that there always be a community ready to welcome, protect, promote and integrate everyone, without distinctions and without excluding anyone.

The synodal path that we have undertaken as a Church leads us to see in those who are most vulnerable – among whom are many migrants and refugees – special companions on our way, to be loved and cared for as brothers and sisters. Only by walking together will we be able to go far and reach the common goal of our journey.

Rome, Saint John Lateran, 11 May 2023





God, Father Almighty,
grant us the grace to work tirelessly
for justice, solidarity and peace,
so that all your children may enjoy
the freedom to choose whether to migrate or to stay.

Grant us the courage to denounce
all the horrors of our world,
and to combat every injustice
that mars the beauty of your children
and the harmony of our common home.

Sustain us by the power of your Spirit,
so that we can reflect your tender love
to every migrant whom you place in our path,
and to spread in hearts and in every situation
the culture of encounter and of care.

第 109 届世界移民及难民日文告 

2023 年 9 月 24 日 



我们这时代的移民潮展现出一个复杂且环环相扣的现象,为了正确地了解 这个现象,我们需要仔细地分析它不同阶段的每一个面向:从原乡到异地, 甚至包括重回故乡的可能性。为了对此作出一些贡献,我决定以本届世界 移民及难民日的文告,探讨一个人在决定离开自己祖国时,理应拥有的自 由。

几年前,「自由离开、自由留下」是意大利主教团用来促进精诚关怀的主题, 具体响应当代移民潮所带来的挑战。透过悉心聆听每个地区教会,我可以 定论说,保障离开或留下的自由,已是一种普遍和广为人所接纳的牧灵关 怀方式。

「上主的天使托梦显于若瑟说:『起来,带着婴孩和祂的母亲逃往埃及去, 住在那里,直到我再通知你,因为黑落德即将寻找这婴孩,要把祂杀掉』」 (玛二 13)。 圣家逃亡到埃及,就如以色列历史中许多的迁徙一样,都不 是自由的决定。迁徙与否的决定应该恒为自由的,但在许多时候,即使是 在我们这个时代,并非如此。数以百万的人民因为冲突、天灾,或单纯因 为无法在本国过着一个有尊严、有发展的生活,而被迫离乡背井。早在 2003 年,教宗圣若望保禄二世就曾说过:「对移民与难民而言,建立和平的具体 条件,就是首先要认真致力于保障不移民的权利,即可以在自己的国家度 着和平且有尊严的生活。」(〈第九十届世界移民及难民日文告〉,3)   雅各布伯和他所有的孩子们「带了家畜和在客纳罕地积聚的财物,一同向 埃及进发」(创四十六 6)。严重的饥荒迫使雅各布伯和全家到埃及避难, 在那里,他的儿子若瑟确保了他们的生存。在今天,人们被迫迁徙最明显 可见的原因,就是迫害、战争、环境灾害和严重的贫穷。迁徙者因为贫穷、 恐惧或绝望而逃难。为了要消除这些肇因,并藉此消除被迫迁徙这件事情, 我们需要所有人依照自己的责任,共同承诺采取行动。首先,是问我们自 己可以做什么?相对地,应该停止做什么?我们必须尽一切努力去停止军 备竞赛、经济殖民主义、掠夺他人资源,以及对我们共同家园的毁坏。

「凡信了的人,常齐集一处,一切所有皆归公用。他们把产业和财物变卖, 按照每人的需要分配」(宗二 44~45)。早期基督徒团体的理想与今日的现 实看起来是多么遥远!为了让移民成为一个真正自由的选择,我们必须努 力让所有人都在公益中获得平等的分享,能够让自己的基本权利得到尊重, 并获得完整、符合人性的发展。唯有如此,我们才能够向每个人提供一个 有尊严、有意义的人生——无论是为个人,或是在家庭中。显然,迁徙者 的祖国及其领导者负有最主要的责任,他们受拣选去施行德政——透明公 开、诚实、有远见,并且为所有人服务,特别是为那些最弱小的人。他们 也必须要有条件来成就这一切,同时不会让自己的自然和人力资源被剥夺 一空,并且不受其它国家势力的干预,而其目的是谋求少数人的利益。当 环境让人考虑是否要迁徙的时候,我们必须确保当事人作出决定时,有足 够完整的信息并且经过深思熟虑,以避免为数众多的男人、女人和孩子们, 被危险的假象或不择手段的人口贩子所蒙骗。

「在这禧年内,人各归其祖业」(肋廿五 13)。对以色列百姓而言,庆祝禧 年是展现一个伸张集体正义(collective justice)的行为:「借着债务的免除、 土地的归还,每个人都能回到他们原来的生活状态,并且再次享有属于天 主子民的自由」(教宗方济各,公开接见教理讲授,2016 年 2 月 10 日)。 正值我们迈向 2025 年的禧年之际,应该记得庆祝禧年的这个面向。个别的 国家和整个国际群体都应保障每个人可以享有不被强迫迁徙的权利,意即 有权利在自己的国家中度一个和平且有尊严的生活。这个权利虽然尚未成 为法律上的条文,但鉴于它的重要性确实是极为根本的,所以面对超越国 界的共同利益,保障此权利需要被视为所有国家的共同责任。确实,世界 的资源并非无限,经济方面较为贫穷之国家的发展有赖于我们在所有国家 中所产生的共享能力。只要这个权利尚未得到保障——将是很漫长的一个 过程——许多人仍然会被迫离乡背井,为了寻找更好的生活。

「因为我饿了,你们给了我吃的;我渴了,你们给了我喝的;我作客,你 们收留了我;我赤身露体,你们给了我穿的;我患病,你们看顾了我;我 在监里;你们来探望了我」(玛廿五 35~36)。这番话不断劝勉我们,让我 们在迁移者身上不仅看到一个处于困难中的弟兄或姊妹,而是看到基督本 身--祂正在敲我们的门。因此,一方面我们要努力确保每一位迁徙者的 决定都是自由的,另一方面我们也要对每一位迁徙者的尊严予以最高的尊 重;这代表着,要尽量合宜地陪伴和管理每一波的移民潮、建造桥梁而非 高墙、为安全和定期的迁徙群体扩张管道。无论我们决定在哪里建立我们 的未来,无论是在祖国或他乡,最重要的,是一定要有一个准备好接纳人、 保护人、帮助人和能使人融入、不歧视、不排除任何人的团体。

教会所采取的同道偕行的历程,让我们在那些最脆弱者身上——其中许多 是迁移者和难民——看到我们是道路上独特的旅伴,我们该如同弟兄姊妹 般地爱护和照顾他们。只有一起共同前行,我们才能够走得长远,并且抵 达我们旅途的共同终点。


2023 年 5 月 11 日






(天主教会台湾地区主教团 恭译)