Bartholomew: Real welcome demands truth and justice

The Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople sent a message to the ongoing conference in Naples on "Theology after Veritas Gaudium in the Mediterranean context". “We need to carefully examine they ways in which we welcome, why we welcome, but above all how to welcome, respecting the local populations. Reception must become mainly integration, but never syncretism".


Istanbul (AsiaNews) - Welcome "cannot be limited to assistance, but must look at the theme of truth and justice, to understand the causes, to take care of their effects and to strongly testify to the danger of old and new forms of human slavery, often hidden in the form of intense goodwill, subtle concepts of unlimited freedom, the consequences of which are forcibly swelling up within many peoples, even Christians". The Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew, wrote this in a message to the conference in Naples on "Theology after Veritas Gaudium in the Mediterranean context".

In his message the Orthodox leader greets Pope Francis, who will intervene during the meeting, and writes: "Today this sea of ‚Äč‚Äčencounter [the Mediterranean ed] has a very different value [compared to the past], sometimes taken for example in so many areas of the world, not as a meeting place, but rather as a boundary not to be crossed between the north and south of the world, posing questions to the very concept of welcoming the stranger, of which Christianity is the maximum expression, according to the teaching of our Master and Saviour”.

Welcome, Bartholomew writes, "cannot be limited to assistance, but must look at the theme of truth and justice, to understand the causes, to take care of their effects and to strongly testify to the danger of old and new forms of human slavery, often hidden in the form of intense goodwill, subtle concepts of unlimited freedom, the consequences of which are forcibly swelling up within many peoples, even Christians. The transhumance of entire peoples, or worse, of complete generations, causes further poverty in the southern hemisphere and phenomena of intolerance in those who should practice welcoming as the dictate of their own evangelical adherence. And we see all of this in the countries of the African continent journeying to the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, but also among the countries of South America journeying to the North, among the Asian countries on the move towards Oceania, and even inside of Europe itself between East and West ”.

Therefore, the primary commitment of the Churches to social justice becomes predominant, to create theological and anthropological presuppositions, also through the work of Universities and Study Centers, in order to create a new awareness in the world Institutions, in which profit it is not the only yardstick, but one can and must turn towards an eco-sustainable economy, also respectful of the environment in which we live and that we have the duty to deliver intact to future generations, an economy that gives dignity to the human being in its entirety, and therefore free from tensions, free from hotbeds of war, induced many times for the purpose of its own exaggerated selfishness and self-centeredness of a few over many ”.

The opposite, he warns, "is the great danger that today the concept of welcome is experiencing, no longer perceived by the Christian peoples as an evangelical dictate and an example of human brotherhood, but as an "invasion" of peoples on other peoples. History teaches us that this concept of invasion no longer disappears from the common feeling of peoples over the centuries, since it always has a strongly negative meaning. We are still talking about the invasions of the Persians, the Romans, the Barbarian invasions, the Arab, Mongolian, Turkish invasion, the whites on the Native Americans, the black community in America uprooted from Africa in the past, and even the Nazi, Soviet and other invasion up to our days. This sentiment must be strongly avoided today, even by our Churches, so that the welcome-invasion binomial is not realized ”.

The solution lies in carefully examining "the ways in which we welcome, why we welcome, but above all how to welcome, respecting the local populations. Reception must become mainly integration, but never syncretism. If there is a need for world justice for many peoples on the move, there is also the justice of the peoples who open their own borders. There is an evangelical and human duty to welcome those who are in difficulty, but there is also the duty of those who are welcomed to respect the traditions, customs and faiths of those who welcome them ”.

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