Pope Francis said Friday that Jesus still suffers abandonment in the world in the persons of migrants and all whom society rejects.
“How do we react to Jesus who suffers, travels, and migrates in the face of so many of our friends, of so many strangers whom we have learned to make invisible?” he asked hundreds of thousands of young people gathered in Panama for World Youth Day.
The pope said that from the Virgin Mary, “we learn to receive and welcome all those who have suffered abandonment, who have had to leave or lose their land, their roots, their families, their work.”
We want to be a Church “that fosters a culture that knows how to welcome, protect, promote and integrate,” he said, “that does not stigmatize and much less generalize in the most absurd and irresponsible condemnation by identifying all migrants as bearers of social evil.”
Like the biblical figure of Simon of Cyrene, Francis said, we are called to “console and accompany the Lord, helpless and suffering, in the smallest and most abandoned.”
We want to be “a Church that supports and accompanies, that knows how to say: ‘Here I am!’ in the life and in the crosses of so many Christs that walk beside us,” he said.
Along with migrants, the pope decried the abandonment of so many elderly, indigenous people, young people, and the unemployed, while urging his hearers to learn to weep for them and to reach out to them in solidarity.
Those who suffer include the earth and the environment, the pope said.
Father, the Way of the Cross of your Son is prolonged in the cries of our mother earth, which is wounded to its depths by the contamination of its skies, the barrenness of its fields, the pollution of its waters, and that it is trampled by contempt and crazed consumption that goes beyond all reason.
Aboard the papal plane en route to Panama last Wednesday, journalists asked the pope what he thought about the proposed border wall between the United States and Mexico. Francis responded that the fear of migrants is “making us crazy.”
“These are walls of fear,” the pope said.
In mid-January, the Vatican published the collected teachings of Pope Francis on the issue of immigration, reiterating the pontiff’s appeal for a greater openness to migrants.
The massive, 488-page volume, titled Lights on the Ways of Hope: Pope Francis Teaching on Migrants, Refugees and Human Trafficking, gathers the pope’s addresses on immigration, highlighting how key this topic has been to his six-year pontificate.
Immigration and the care of migrants have not only been central to the pope’s agenda; they, he insisted, should also be of vital importance to every Christian.
“This is not a notion invented by some Pope, or a momentary fad. In today’s world too, we are called to follow the path of spiritual wisdom proposed by the prophet Isaiah to show what is pleasing to God,” he said in reference to welcoming migrants.
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