“It is not only the cause of migrants that is at stake; it is not just about them, but about all of us and about the present and future of the human family,” says Pope Francis in a message for the upcoming World Day of Migrants and Refugees, which this year will be marked on 29 September.
In his message, the Holy Father reflects on the theme he has chosen for the World Day: “It is not just about migrants.”
For the Holy Father, the issue of migrants and refugees is also about “extreme individualism” in the most economically advanced societies. This attitude, “combined with a utilitarian mentality and reinforced by the media, is producing a ‘globalization of indifference’.”
And, he says, it is about us – about fears which can “condition our way of thinking and acting to the point of making us intolerant, closed and perhaps even… racist.” It is about charity and our humanity, about seeing that no one is excluded, about putting the last in first place, about the whole person and all people.
The verbs “welcome, protect, promote and integrate,” says Pope Francis, “describe the Church’s mission to all those living in the existential peripheries… If we put those four verbs into practice, we will help build the city of God and man.”
The upcoming World Day of Migrants and Refugees will mark its 105th edition since being launched by the Church in 1914. The growing numbers of migrants and refugees and their increasingly difficult situations ensure that that concern is strongly present today.
According to the International Organization for Migration, there were 257.7 million migrants across the world in 2017. Some 68.5 million have been forcibly displaced and nearly 25.4 million are refugees, reports the UN Refugee Agency.
The Pope’s message was presented at a 27 May press conference at the Vatican. Fr. Michael Czerny and Fr. Fabio Baggio, Undersecretaries of the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, emphasized that “the Holy Father invites us to encounter newcomers, accompany them, pray for them and share life with them within our wider concern for all marginalized people.”
Fr. Leonir Mario Chiarello, Superior General of the Scalabrinian Missionaries, reflected that “To think of stopping migration with administrative decrees, barriers and walls is illusory. It’s like wanting to stop history. And more, it squanders the mutual enrichment that can occur when people of different backgrounds meet.”
H.E. Jean-Claude Hollerich, Archbishop of Luxembourg, and President of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conference of the European Union, who joined in the press conference, said: “The Pope’s message is a wake-up call for the Church in Europe… It is about our humanity, about our being Christian, about us listening to the call of Christ.”
In Geneva, ICMC Secretary General Msgr. Robert J. Vitillo welcomed the Holy Father’s message as “an inspiration and guidance for our work. His message analyzes the situation of migrants and refugees, its causes, our attitudes towards them and proposes a truly Christian response.”
- Read Pope Francis’ message for the 105th World Day of Migrants and Refugees