Pope Francis says "All violence inflicted on women is a desecration of God, born of a woman." at Central American Integration Event




[Costa Rica, June 10, 2021]

ladies and gentlemen,

I cordially greet the participants in the Solidarity Event, promoted on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Central American Integration System, in which the Holy See has participated as an extra-regional Observer since 2012. This initiative aims to mobilize support to improve the situation of the forcibly displaced and the communities that host them in the region of Central America and Mexico.

The word solidarity, which is at the center of this event, takes on an even greater meaning in this time of pandemic crisis, a crisis that has put the entire world to the test, both rich and poor countries.

The health, economic and social crisis caused by Covid-19 has reminded everyone that human beings are like dust. But valuable dust in the eyes of God, [1] who constituted us as a single human family.And just as the natural family educates fidelity, sincerity, cooperation and respect, promoting the planning of a livable world and believing in relationships of trust, even in difficult conditions, the family of nations is also called to lead. their common attention to all, especially to the smallest and most vulnerable members, without yielding to the logic of competition and particular interests.

In these last long months of the pandemic, the Central American region has seen the deterioration of social conditions that were already precarious and complex due to an unjust economic system. This system wears out the family, [4] the basic cell of society. And thus, people, "without a home, without a family, without a community, without belonging", they are uprooted and orphaned, at the mercy of "highly conflictive situations that cannot be quickly resolved: domestic violence, femicides— [...] - armed gangs, criminals, drug trafficking, sexual exploitation of minors and not so minors" . These factors, mixed with the pandemic and with a climate crisis characterized by an increasingly intense drought and increasingly frequent hurricanes, have given human mobility the connotation of a forced mass phenomenon, so that it takes on the appearance of a regional exodus.

Despite the innate sense of hospitality inherent in the peoples of Central America, sanitary restrictions have influenced the closure of many borders. Many were left halfway, unable to advance or retreat.

The pandemic has also highlighted the fragility of internally displaced persons, who still "do not enter the international system of protection provided by international refugee law" [7] and are often left without adequate protection.

Furthermore, in the different phases of displacement, both internal and external, there is an increasing number of cases of human trafficking, dealing with "a wound on the body of contemporary humanity, a wound on the flesh of Christ, it is a crime against humanity ”. [8]

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

What I have presented here are some of the most relevant challenges that affect human mobility, a phenomenon that has characterized the history of the human being and that "brings with it great promises" [9]  for the future of humanity.

In this context, the Holy See, while reaffirming the exclusive right of States to manage their own borders, expects a common, solid and coordinated regional commitment, destined to place the person and their dignity at the center of all political exercise. . Indeed, “the principle of the centrality of the human person [...] obliges us to always put personal security before national security. [...] The conditions of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees require that they be guaranteed personal safety and access to basic services. [10]

In addition to these protections, it is necessary to adopt specific international mechanisms that provide concrete protection and recognize the "often invisible drama" of internally displaced persons, relegated "to the background of national political agendas." [eleven]

Similar measures must be taken with regard to our many brothers and sisters who are forced to flee due to the onset of the severe climate crisis. [12]  These measures must be accompanied by regional policies for the protection of our “common home” aimed at mitigating the impact of both climatic phenomena and environmental catastrophes caused by man in his work of land grabbing, deforestation and appropriation of land. Water. These violations seriously undermine the three fundamental areas of integral human development: land, housing and work.

Regarding human trafficking, this scourge must be prevented by supporting families and education, and victims being protected with programs that guarantee their safety, "the protection of privacy, safe accommodation and adequate social assistance and psychological ». [14]  Younger children and women deserve special attention: “Women are the source of life. However, they are continually offended, beaten, raped, induced to prostitute themselves and to eliminate the life they lead in their womb. All violence inflicted on women is a desecration of God, born of a woman. As Saint John Paul II said, "the woman cannot become an" object "of male" domination "and" possession ".We are all called to support an education that promotes the fundamental equality, respect and honor that women deserve.

The pandemic has triggered an "unprecedented educational crisis", [17]  exacerbated by restrictions and forced isolation that have exposed existing inequalities and increased the risk of the most vulnerable falling into treacherous smuggling networks within and outside national borders. Faced with new challenges, international collaboration must be intensified to prevent trafficking, protect victims and prosecute criminals. This synergistic action will greatly benefit from the participation of religious organizations and local Churches, which offer not only humanitarian assistance but also spiritual accompaniment to the victims.

In times of immeasurable suffering caused by pandemic, violence and environmental disasters, the spiritual dimension cannot and should not be relegated to a secondary position with respect to the protection of physical health. Comprehensive understanding of the human person, who feels truly welcomed when all the dimensions that make up their identity are recognized and accepted, including the religious one. [18]

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

Faced with so many pressing challenges, the sincere call to build a "humane and fraternal society [...] capable of caring to ensure in an efficient and stable way that everyone is accompanied on the journey of their lives" is also applied to this region. [19]  It is a joint effort that goes beyond national borders to allow regional exchange: «Cultural, economic and political integration with nearby towns should be accompanied by an educational process that promotes the value of love for one's neighbor , the first essential exercise to achieve a healthy universal integration ».

Multilateral cooperation is a valuable tool to promote the common good, paying special attention to the deep and new causes of forced displacement, so that "borders are not zones of tension, but open arms of reconciliation". [21]  Today "we are faced [...] with the choice between one of two possible paths: one leads to the strengthening of multilateralism [...]; the other gives preference to the attitudes of self-sufficiency, nationalism, protectionism, individualism and isolation, leaving out the poorest, the most vulnerable, the inhabitants of the existential peripheries ”.

The Church walks alongside the peoples of Central America, who have known how to face crises with courage and be welcoming communities, [23]  and exhorts them to persevere in solidarity with mutual trust and bold hope.

I thank you from my heart and invoke on all of you and on the nations that represent the blessing of the Lord.

From the Vatican, June 5, 2021



[1]  Cf. Benedict XVI,  General Audience  (February 17, 2010).

[2]  Cf. Conc. Ecu. Vatican II, Const. dogm. Lumen gentium , 13.

[3]  Cf.  General Audience  (October 7, 2015).

[4]  Cf.  Meeting with the Central American Bishops (SEDAC)  (January 24, 2019).

[5]  Ibid .

[6]  Ibid.

[7]  Dicastery for the Service of Integral Human Development - Migrants and Refugees Section,  Pastoral Orientations on internally displaced persons  (2020).

[8] Speech to the participants in the International Conference on Human Trafficking  (10 April 2014). 

[9] Message on the occasion of the Mexico - Holy See colloquium on human mobility and development  (July 14, 2014). 

[10]  Message for the 104th World Day of Migrants and Refugees  (14 January 2018).

[11] Message for the 106th World Day of Migrants and Refugees  (13 May 2020). 

[12]  Cf. Dicastery for the Service of Integral Human Development - Migrants and Refugees Section,  Pastoral Orientations on climate displaced persons  (2021).

[13]  Cf.  Speech to the participants in the World Meeting of Popular Movements  (October 28, 2014).

[14]  Dicastery for the Service of Integral Human Development - Migrants and Refugees Section,  Pastoral Orientations on Trafficking in Persons  (2019).

[15] Homily  (January 1, 2020). 

[16]  Letter ap. Mulieris dignitatem  (August 15, 1988).

[17]  Video message for the launch of Mission 4.7 and the Educational Pact  (December 16, 2020).

[18] Address to the members of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See  (January 8, 2018). 

[19]  Letter enc. Fratelli tutti  (October 3, 2020),  110 .

[20]  Ibid . ,  151 .

[21]  St. John Paul II,  Homily  (March 6, 1983).

[22]  Video message on the occasion of the 75th General Assembly of the United Nations  (25 September 2020).

[23]  Cf.  Message for the 107 to  World Day of the Migrant and Refugee  (3 May 2021).