Pope Francis on Thursday gave his support to efforts to develop a global agreement on international migration, saying the Church “must encourage countries to coordinate more suitable and effective responses to the challenges posed by issues of migration.”

The pontiff was speaking to the Plenary Council of the International Catholic Migration Commission, which is meeting in the Vatican.

Francis praised the organization for responding to the “inhumane living conditions” experienced by millions of migrants and refugees around the world.

“It is my hope that this work will continue to inspire local churches to do all they can for persons forced to leave their home countries and who, all too often, become victims of dishonesty, violence and abuse of every sort,” he said.

The United Nations estimates there are currently over 65 million forcibly displaced people worldwide, including over 22 million forced out of their countries of origin.

“Today as in the past, liberating the poor, the oppressed and the persecuted is an integral part of the mission entrusted by God to the Church,” the pope said.

The pope alluded to the efforts by the United Nations to coordinate a response to the current migration and refugee crisis.

The UN General Assembly adopted the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants in September 2016, promising to develop two new global compacts in 2018: A global compact on refugees and a global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration.

In the declaration, the UN member-states agreed to:

  • protect the safety, dignity and human rights and fundamental freedoms of all migrants, regardless of their migratory status, and at all times;
  • support countries rescuing, receiving and hosting large numbers of refugees and migrants;
  • integrate migrants – addressing their needs and capacities as well as those of receiving communities – in humanitarian and development assistance frameworks and planning;
  • combat xenophobia, racism and discrimination towards all migrants;
  • develop, through a state-led process, non-binding principles and voluntary guidelines on the treatment of migrants in vulnerable situations; and
  • strengthen global governance of migration, including by bringing the International Organization for Migration into the UN family and through the development of a global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration

The Intergovernmental Conference to Adopt the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration will be held in Morocco December 10-11, 2018.

Francis said Church organizations must commit themselves to “ensuring that, as a sign of shared global responsibility, concrete engagement follows from the words” made in international agreements.

“The processes set in motion by the international community for a global agreement on refugees, and another for safe, orderly and regulated migration, represent a privileged forum for implementing such dialogue,” the pope said. “Here too the Commission has been in the forefront, offering a valued and competent contribution to the development of much-needed new ways for the international community to respond with foresight to these phenomena typical of our time.”