Pope Francis said Wednesday that he does not like using the expression “migrants” and prefers instead to speak of “migrant people,” since this better underscores their humanity.
Reflecting on his recent visit to Morocco, the pope told pilgrims gathered in Saint Peter’s Square for his weekly audience that he had focused on the issue of migrants during his trip, both in meeting with the Moroccan authorities and especially in meeting with the migrants themselves.
“Some of them testified that the lives of those who emigrate changes and goes back to being human when they find a community that welcomes them as a person. This is fundamental,” he said.
“The Church in Morocco is very committed to being close to migrants,” Francis said, before departing from his prepared text to speak off-the-cuff.
“I don’t like to say ‘migrants.’ I prefer to say ‘migrant people,’” he said. “Do you know why? Because ‘migrant’ is an adjective, while the term ‘person’ is a noun. We have fallen into an adjective culture: we use many adjectives and we often forget the nouns, that is, the substance.”
“An adjective must always be tied to a noun, to a person, therefore: ‘a migrant person.’ Thus there is respect and one does not fall into this culture of the adjective that is too liquid, too ‘gaseous,’” he said.
“The Church in Morocco — I was saying — is very committed to being close to migrant people, and so I wanted to thank and encourage those who generously spend themselves in their service by fulfilling the words of Christ: ‘I was a stranger and you welcomed me’ (Mt 25:35),” he said.
The pope also reiterated his appreciation for the United Nations “Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration,” which was signed in Marrakech last December.
The pact represented “an important step towards assuming responsibility on the part of the international community,” he said, adding that the Holy See had contributed to the process by offering four verbs to sum up a proper attitude toward immigration: “welcoming migrants, protecting migrants, promoting migrants and integrating migrants.”
Returning from Morocco to Rome, the pope raised a stir on Sunday by comparing modern European populism to Adolf Hitler while dissing President Trump’s proposed border wall.
Asked about Mr. Trump by name, the pope warned that “builders of walls, whether they are of razor-wire or brick, will become prisoners of the walls they build. That’s history.”
We have seen that “we need bridges and we feel pain when we see people who prefer to build walls,” he said.
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