Says Mother Church embraces everyone and accompanies every person.
Pope Francis says that Christ is urging us to welcome migrants, to get to know them as people with stories just like ours, and not mere statistics.
The pope said this today during the general audience, as he spoke of a two-year campaign officially launched today by the Caritas Internationalis network. Caritas is the global network of the Church’s charity organizations.
The “Share the Journey” campaign encourages people to actually meet with migrants and listen to their stories, rather than treat them as mere numbers and statistics associated with negative stereotypes.
Opening his arms wide in a symbolic gesture, Francis said, “Christ urges us to welcome our brothers and sisters with our arms truly open, ready for a sincere embrace, a loving and enveloping embrace.”
And pointing to the Bernini Colonnade that encircles St. Peter’s Square, he said our embrace of migrants should mimic the colonnade, “which represents Mother Church who embraces everyone by sharing in our common journey.”
The pope thanked Caritas members and other Church organizations for their constant commitment in favor of migrants, saying that they are the sign of an “open, inclusive and welcoming Church.”
Pope Francis has made the plight of migrants one of the hallmarks of his pontificate, visiting the Greek island of Lesbos, for example, and asking all the churches and convents of Europe to take in migrant families, as the Vatican has done.
At the same time, the Holy Father recognizes the complexities of the issue, and has said on more than one occasion that nations have to be able to integrate the migrants they receive.
Sharing the journey
The campaign launched on Wednesday aims to challenge negative myths and perceptions regarding migrants through websites featuring the stories of individuals, the true impact of immigration and explanations of Church teaching on the culture of encounter.
Caritas Internationalis is asking Catholics to take public action in support of migrants, posting pro-immigrant messages on social media and participating in programs where they can meet migrants and refugees.
In his greetings to all those who work to support and advocate for migrants and refugees, the pope also welcomed a petition which is advocating new legislation on migration “more pertinent to the current context.”
After the audience, Pope Francis personally greeted a group of some 50 refugees who were in the Square for the occasion.