Pope Francis: “The Nations Must Participate in the Edification of the Common Good of Humanity”

We publish an excerpt of a speech given by Pope Francis on 2 May 2019 at the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences.

The way in which a nation welcomes migrants reveals its vision of human dignity and of its relationship with humanity. Every human being is a member of humanity and has the same dignity. When a person or a family is compelled to leave their homeland they must be welcomed with humanity. I have said many times that our duty to migrants can be articulated around four verbs: welcome, protect, promote and integrate. Migrants are not a threat to the culture, customs and values of a receiving nation. They too have a duty, that of being integrated into the nation that receives them. Integrating does not mean assimilating, but sharing the way of life of their new homeland, while they themselves remain as individuals, with their own biographical history. In this way, migrants can present themselves and be recognized as an opportunity to enrich the people that integrates them. It is the task of public authorities to protect migrants and to regulate migratory flows with the virtue of prudence, as well as to promote welcome so that the local populations may be formed and encouraged to consciously take part in the integrative process of the migrants who are to be received.

The migratory issue too, which is a permanent fact of human history, revives reflection on the nature of the nation state. All nations are the result of integration of consecutive waves of migrating individuals or groups, and tend to be images of the diversity of humanity while being united by values, common cultural resources and healthy customs. A State that arouses in its people nationalistic sentiments against other nations or groups of people would fail in its own mission. We know from history where similar deviations have led; I am thinking of Europe in the last century.

The nation-state cannot be considered as an absolute, as an island with respect to the surrounding circumstances. In the current situation of globalization not just of the economy but also of technological and cultural exchanges, the nation-state is no longer able to procure on its own the common good of its populations. The common good has become global and nations must affiliate themselves for their own benefit. When a supranational common good is clearly identified, it necessitates a specific, legally and concordantly constituted authority capable of facilitating its fulfilment. Let us consider the great contemporary challenges of climate change, of the new forms of slavery and of peace.

The state is called to a greater responsibility. While maintaining the characteristics of independence and sovereignty, and continuing to seek the good of its own population, today it is its task to participate in the edification of the common good of humanity. This universal common good, in its turn, must acquire a heightened legal significance at the international level. Of course, I am not thinking of a universalism or a generic internationalism that disregards the identity of individual peoples: this, indeed, must be appreciated as a unique and indispensable contribution in the largest harmonious plan. I ask you to cooperate with me in spreading this awareness of renewed international solidarity with respect for human dignity, the common good, with respect for the planet and the supreme good of peace.

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