“The Lord has a particular concern for foreigners, widows and orphans, for they are without rights, excluded and marginalised”, the Pope has cried.
Driving the news
Francis was speaking in a homily Sunday at a special Mass in St. Peter’s Square on the occasion of the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, which he devoted to the “moral duty” of Christians that is the “loving care for the less privileged”.
“We must pay special attention to the strangers in our midst as well as to widows, orphans and all the outcasts of our time”, the Pope insisted.
The big picture
“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 explained, referring to the theme of his message for the World Day this year: “It’s not just about migrants”.
“The Lord calls us to practise charity towards them. He calls us to restore their humanity, as well as our own, and to leave no one behind”.
In his powerful sermon, the Pope deplored the “injustices that cause exclusion” in the world today.
In particular, “the privileges of the few, who, in order to preserve their status, act to the detriment of the many”.
“This is a painful truth; our word is daily more and more elitist, more cruel towards the excluded”, Francis denounced.
Recalling a 2013 homily on the migrant island hotspot of Lampedusa, the Pope deplored the “culture of comfort” in which the world is immersed, that “makes us think only of ourselves, makes us insensitive to the cries of other people”.
That “culture of comfort” leads to the “globalization of indifference”. Francis warned.
“Overly concerned with preserving our own well-being, we… risk being blind to our brothers and sisters in difficulty”, the Pope affirmed.
He insisted: “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”.
“We cannot remain insensitive, our hearts deadened, before the misery of so many innocent people”, Francis insisted.
“We must not fail to weep. We must not fail to respond. Let us ask the Lord for the grace of tears, the tears that can convert our hearts before such sins”.
“The commandment is to love God and love our neighbour; the two cannot be separated!”, the Pope declared.
“Loving our neighbour 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”, he explained.
“Loving our neighbour 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”, Francis continued.
The Pope concluded his homily encouraging Christians to be “a neighbour 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”.
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For the record
After the Mass, the Pope offered a greeting to those who had accompanied him in the liturgy, thanking them for renewing with him “the Church’s attention to the many vulnerable people who are on the move”.
Francis added that the World Day of Migrants and Refugees serves to underline the Church’s conviction that “no one be excluded from society, whether they be resident citizens, settled for some time, or newly arrived”.
The Pope explained the significance of a sculpture he went on to unveil in St. Peter’s Square, inspired by the passage from the Letter to the Hebrews: “Do not neglect hospitality, for through it some have unknowingly entertained angels”.
“This sculpture, made of bronze and clay, depicts a group of migrants of various cultures and from different historic times”, Francis said.
“I wanted this artistic work to be placed here in St Peter’s Square, so that it might remind everyone of the evangelical challenge of hospitality”.