Pope Francis reminds Christians that migrants and refugees should be welcomed around the world

Pope Francis attends the unveiling of a sculpture depicting a group of migrants of various cultures and from different historic times, following a Mass for World Day of Migrants and Refugees, in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Sept. 29, 2019. (CNS photo/Vincenzo Pinto, Reuters pool)

Pope Francis again denounced “the globalization of indifference” and said “a painful truth” is that “our world is daily more and more elitist, more cruel towards the excluded,” as he celebrated Mass in St Peter’s Square on the 105th World Day of Migrants and Refugees on Sept. 29.

He reminded the 40,000 faithful present in the square and believers worldwide that “as Christians, we cannot be indifferent to the tragedy of old and new forms of poverty, to the bleak isolation, contempt and discrimination experienced by those who do not belong to 'our group'” and added, “we cannot remain insensitive, our hearts deadened, before the misery of so many innocent people. We must not fail to weep. We must not fail to respond.”

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At the end of mass, he underlined the moral imperative to welcome and give hospitality to migrants and discarded people by inaugurating a 20-foot tall bronze, three and a half-ton sculpture, on the left-hand side of St. Peter’s Square. The sculpture depicts 140 migrants and refugees from different cultures and historical periods, including indigenous migrants, Jews fleeing from Nazi Germany, Poles escaping from communism and Syrians and Africans fleeing from war, poverty and famine. The 140 figures correspond to the 140 sculptures in the colonnades of the square designed by Bernini.

"As Christians, we cannot be indifferent to the tragedy of old and new forms of poverty."

It is the first time in 400 years, since the time of Bernini, that a new sculpture has been installed in this square. Conceived and designed by the Canadian artist, Timothy Schmalz, at the request of the Vatican office for Migrants and Refugees, led by the cardinal-designate Michael Czerny and the Scalabrini missionary, Fr. Fabio Baggio, who respond directly to the pope. The sculpture was unveiled after Mass by four migrants in the presence of Pope Francis who examined it in detail and shook hands with Mr. Schmalz, the migrants and those who had contributed to its realization. At the Angelus, Francis recalled that the sculpture gives expression to the words from the Letter to the Hebrews: “Do not neglect hospitality, for some unknowingly welcomed angels.”

Thousands of colorfully dressed migrants and refugees from many countries who have found refuge and a new home in Italy, thanks also to the Italian church, were present at the Mass. Prayers were said in Arabic, Swahili, Chinese, French and Italian, while families from Nigeria, Syria, the Philippines and Slovakia brought the offertory gifts to the pope. A choir from South India sang hymns, and others too from Mexico, Peru and the Congo sang. Many wore T-shirts colored blue, green, yellow, red and white representing the different continents. The incense used at mass was made in an Ethiopian refugee camp.

Wearing green vestments, Francis in his homily reminded everyone that “if we want to be men and women of God” then, as Saint Paul urges Timothy, we must “keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.” He recalled that “the commandment is to love God and love our neighbor” and emphasized that “the two cannot be separated!”

Pope Francis said, “Loving our neighbor as ourselves means being firmly committed to building a more just world, in which everyone has access to the goods of the earth, in which all can develop as individuals and as families, and in which fundamental rights and dignity are guaranteed to all.” Furthermore, he explained, “loving our neighbor means feeling compassion for the sufferings of our brothers and sisters, drawing close to them, touching their sores and sharing their stories, and thus manifesting concretely God’s tender love for them. This means being a neighbor to all those who are mistreated and abandoned on the streets of our world, soothing their wounds and bringing them to the nearest shelter, where their needs can be met.”

"Today’s world is increasingly becoming more elitist and cruel towards the excluded.”

He recalled that in his message for this 105th World Day of Migrants and Refugees, the refrain “It is not Just about Migrants,” is repeated because “it is not only about foreigners; it is about all those in existential peripheries who, together with migrants and refugees, are victims of the throwaway culture.” Francis insisted, “the Lord calls us to practice charity towards them. He calls us to restore their humanity, as well as our own, and to leave no one behind.”

In addition to the exercise of charity, Francis said “the Lord also invites us to think about the injustices that cause exclusion—and in particular the privileges of the few, who, in order to preserve their status, act to the detriment of the many.”

Pope Francis, quoting from that message, said: “Today’s world is increasingly becoming more elitist and cruel towards the excluded.” He added this morning, “this is a painful truth; our word is daily more and more elitist, more cruel towards the excluded.” Then, returning to the text of his message, he said, “Developing countries continue to be drained of their best natural and human resources for the benefit of a few privileged markets. Wars only affect some regions of the world, yet weapons of war are produced and sold in other regions which are then unwilling to take in the refugees generated by these conflicts. Those who pay the price are always the little ones, the poor, the most vulnerable, who are prevented from sitting at the table and are left with the ‘crumbs’ of the banquet.”

Ever since becoming pope on March 13, 2013, Francis, the son of migrants, has sought to awaken the consciences of people worldwide to the plight of migrants and refugees, which is the result of the biggest humanitarian crisis since the end of the Second World War and now involves, according to the United Nations, some 70.8 million people who are forced to leave their own country, including 30 million refugees.

With this dramatic reality in mind, Pope Francis today repeated the words he had first uttered when he visited the island of Lampedusa on July 8, 2013 to mourn the thousands who had drowned in the Mediterranean Sea on their way to seek refuge in Europe: “Today, the culture of comfort… makes us think only of ourselves, makes us insensitive to the cries of other people… which results in indifference to others; indeed, it even leads to the globalization of indifference.”

This morning, in his homily, he went further and declared: “In the end, we too risk becoming like that rich man in the Gospel who is unconcerned for the poor man Lazarus, covered with sores, who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table. Too intent on buying elegant clothes and organizing lavish banquets, the rich man in the parable is blind to Lazarus’s suffering. Overly concerned with preserving our own well-being, we too risk being blind to our brothers and sisters in difficulty.”

He concluded his homily by entrusting to “the maternal love of Mary, Our Lady of the Way, all migrants and refugees, together with those who live on the peripheries of our world and those who have chosen to share their journey.”

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Todd Witherell
3 weeks 3 days ago

First new sculpture in the Square in 400 years and connecting with Bernini. Very significant, it seems to me. At the very heart of Pope Francis’ vision.

Pablo Mijangos
3 weeks 3 days ago

Small historical correction: It's not the first time in 400 years that a new monument is installed in the piazza. The colossal statues of St Peter and St Paul were installed in 1847, at the request of Pope Pius IX. http://stpetersbasilica.info/Exterior/StPeterStatue/StPeterStatue.htm

Todd Witherell
3 weeks 3 days ago

Unveiling

Pope Francis truly cares
Welcomes, smiles, dares
Angels Unawares!

Christopher Lochner
3 weeks 3 days ago

This is the primary reason why I dislike Francis. He preaches the Gospel but always with an asterisk. He mentions Lazarus but this is NOT pertaining to all in need but only to those of his pet project this being people entering a country without any process involved. People who are your neighbors and who suffer are of little if any concern. Those who remain in countries experiencing astounding problems are irrelevant. Those who storm a border are worthy of assistance. So, the "squeaky wheel gets the grease" is now a teaching from Our Lord? To reiterate, this is the Good Samaritan Parable with the asterisk being one must check the identification of the poor person to ascertain whether he/she is worthy of assistance. This is "Christian Love" more as a bragging right than a Truth. I simply cannot stand anyone who claims to be religious and says that they love this group but not so much that group and just because! Perhaps if Francis sold some of that Vatican riches to fund refugee relief I wouldn't be so angry. The Piata (sp?) could bring in $1billion or more and redistribute wealth, take from the rich and give to the poor, so why not? Oh, right, because...This is not the Gospel but is the politics of Francis.

Todd Witherell
3 weeks 1 day ago

You shall treat the stranger among you as native born, and love him as yourself, for you were once strangers in the land of Egypt. I am the LORD your God. - Leviticus 19:34

JOHN GRONDELSKI
3 weeks 1 day ago

My Jesuit teachers at Fordham would have called this "proof-texting." Oh, but that was when I did it to defend Catholic sexual ethics.

Todd Witherell
3 weeks 1 day ago

My teachers at James Madison University and the University of Chicago Divinity School called it quoting Scripture and reading the Bible.

Christopher Scott
3 weeks ago

Did they teach contextomy? There is so much out of context scripture quoting on this site it’s pathetic. These are not stand alone sayings and you need to quit treating them as such.

Christopher Lochner
3 weeks 3 days ago

And I wonder how much this sculpture cost, money which would have been better used to help the poor, do you think? I note the artist is selling a desktop version for $400. So now buy it to show your concern for the poor and make the artist rich and call it a day. What a godless and self-serving monstrosity. Some people look at The Cross and wonder how can I serve while others look and see $$$.

JOHN GRONDELSKI
3 weeks 1 day ago

But we virtue signalled!
Further reason to starve papal and diocesan collections and give parishes designated funds for specific projects. The only way to stop Francis's clericalism is to empty the pockets of Peter's Pence.

JOHN GRONDELSKI
3 weeks 1 day ago

But we virtue signalled!
Further reason to starve papal and diocesan collections and give parishes designated funds for specific projects. The only way to stop Francis's clericalism is to empty the pockets of Peter's Pence.

Antony P.
3 weeks 2 days ago

Uncontrolled economic migration is unmanageable, and it simply leads to a nightmare. Francis is right to point out the injustice of the suffering of the poor ... but the solution to that is that we help solving the problems where the problems are, and not that we deplete the local communities from their most capable members by encouraging uncontrolled migration and, thus, escalate these communities’s problems and sufferings.

Also, it is important to remember that uncontrolled migration can be, and often is, driven by the exact same greed, what brought about the current situation of poverty and suffering.

I would have expected a more nuanced and helpful approach from Francis on this issue ...

Todd Witherell
3 weeks 1 day ago

You shall treat the stranger among you as native born and love him as yourself, for you were once strangers in the land of Egypt. I am the LORD your God. - Leviticus 19:34

Antony P.
3 weeks 1 day ago

You are not addressing a single point of my comment.

The “stranger” in the Biblical passage you refer to is the one you know nothing about, and shows up at your doorsteps to tell you about his situation and needs.

The migrants of today, especially the economic migrants, you know about perhaps more than some of the poor in your own town. You kno their situation, their plight and troubles. So why do you wait for them to arrive at your doorsteps? Why don’t you help them where they are?

Todd Witherell
3 weeks 1 day ago

I do help them where they are - in my country or trying to enter my country. Bienvenidos!

Todd Witherell
3 weeks 1 day ago

You shall treat the stranger living among you as native born, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were once strangers in the land of Egypt. I am the LORD your God. - Leviticus 19:34

Antony P.
3 weeks ago

I was hoping that you would show some basic respect ... as to a stranger ... and try to engage my points by reason, and not simply repeat a mantra ... there is a real difference between the two.

Jim Smith
3 weeks 2 days ago

I look forward to the Swiss guards being stood down, all entries to all space within the Vatican state unlocked and unguarded and all empty rooms ready for occupation by self-defined migrants and refugees.

Gerry Freer
3 weeks 2 days ago

Indifference

To run or not to run? To seek or not to seek?
That is the question or perhaps that is the problem.
Indifference!
Indifference creves the will,plays cat and mouse.

Allow me to tell you and re-tell you what you already know:Indifference creves the will!
“Little by little,I will break you,”it says.
“Little by little,”it grins.

Our world,more of ice than fire,less of truth and more of post-truth,
Serapactic,Sidenifilic!
The wolf negates the lamb,no more heroes.
No more grand,grand,great things.
indifference !
No more chatting with the children,the Oldies never listen.
A busted man in the street bleeds out.The migrant drowns at sea.
No more Samaritan impulses.No more.No more.

“I am globalised,”it cries,
“I win,you loose.”it smirks.

Gerry Freer
Inspired by Charles Becaud and L.Cohen

Gerry Freer
3 weeks 2 days ago

Indifference

To run or not to run? To seek or not to seek?
That is the question or perhaps that is the problem.
Indifference!
Indifference creves the will,plays cat and mouse.

Allow me to tell you and re-tell you what you already know:Indifference creves the will!
“Little by little,I will break you,”it says.
“Little by little,”it grins.

Our world,more of ice than fire,less of truth and more of post-truth,
Serapactic,Sidenifilic!
The wolf negates the lamb,no more heroes.
No more grand,grand,great things.
indifference !
No more chatting with the children,the Oldies never listen.
A busted man in the street bleeds out.The migrant drowns at sea.
No more Samaritan impulses.No more.No more.

“I am globalised,”it cries,
“I win,you loose.”it smirks.

Gerry Freer
Inspired by Charles Becaud and L.Cohen

Gerry Freer
3 weeks 2 days ago

Indifference

To run or not to run? To seek or not to seek?
That is the question or perhaps that is the problem.
Indifference!
Indifference creves the will,plays cat and mouse.

Allow me to tell you and re-tell you what you already know:Indifference creves the will!
“Little by little,I will break you,”it says.
“Little by little,”it grins.

Our world,more of ice than fire,less of truth and more of post-truth,
Serapactic,Sidenifilic!
The wolf negates the lamb,no more heroes.
No more grand,grand,great things.
indifference !
No more chatting with the children,the Oldies never listen.
A busted man in the street bleeds out.The migrant drowns at sea.
No more Samaritan impulses.No more.No more.

“I am globalised,”it cries,
“I win,you loose.”it smirks.

Gerry Freer
Inspired by Charles Becaud and L.Cohen

Gerry Freer
3 weeks 2 days ago

Indifference

To run or not to run? To seek or not to seek?
That is the question or perhaps that is the problem.
Indifference!
Indifference creves the will,plays cat and mouse.

Allow me to tell you and re-tell you what you already know:Indifference creves the will!
“Little by little,I will break you,”it says.
“Little by little,”it grins.

Our world,more of ice than fire,less of truth and more of post-truth,
Serapactic,Sidenifilic!
The wolf negates the lamb,no more heroes.
No more grand,grand,great things.
indifference !
No more chatting with the children,the Oldies never listen.
A busted man in the street bleeds out.The migrant drowns at sea.
No more Samaritan impulses.No more.No more.

“I am globalised,”it cries,
“I win,you loose.”it smirks.

Gerry Freer
Inspired by Charles Becaud and L.Cohen

Thomaspj Poovathinkal
3 weeks 2 days ago

Let Both, Pope Francis and President Trump, have their full scope to promote their political goals. Bother are trying to do good but to different category of People. But it is clear Trump is NOT against migration BUT against uncontrolled migration.

JOHN GRONDELSKI
3 weeks 1 day ago

So does a Catholic public official have a right to demand a legal and orderly process for immigration? Or do we not discuss that question, paying it but lipservice, while we engage in papal schmalz and schtick?

Dr.Cajetan Coelho
3 weeks 2 days ago

Migrants - they come with the Good News. They have the potential to evangelize.

Christopher Scott
3 weeks 2 days ago

How ironic is it that those who stand against the corruption of global elites for destroying countries and their middle class economies and funding wars that destabilize countries which created the massive refugee crisis around the world get accused by the Holy Father of being globalist elites??? Is this some kind of reverse psychology?

It reminds me of what the democrats are doing to POTUS... accuse Trump of corruption Biden admitted to doing. The best defense is a good offense.,,It’s sad to see Church leaders using the same playbook

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