Pope says migrants, refugees and society's discarded need justice as well as charity

Marking World Day of Migrants and Refugees, Pope Francis celebrates a mass in St. Peter's Square.  Choir and faithful of all ethnic groups.  "We ask for the grace to cry" for the "sin" of indifference.  The plundered resources and the arms market.  "The commandment is to love God and love one's neighbor.  They cannot be separated! "  The greeting of Card. Bassetti.  Prayers for Cameroon and sculpture that recalls "the evangelical challenge to show hospitality".


Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "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".  They deserve not only our "charity", but also that we "reflect on the injustices" in todays world which is "increasingly becoming more elitist and cruel towards the excluded".

This is the abbreviated highlight of Pope Francis'  homily given during the Mass in St. Peter's Square  to mark World Day of Migrants and Refugees.  Many bishops concelebrated, including Card.  Gualtiero Bassetti, president of the Italian Bishops' Conference, who expressed his thanks to the Pope and reaffirmed the Italian Church's commitment to the poor and migrants.

The whole celebration is a hymn to the multiplicity of ethnic groups and cultures symbolized by colors, clothes, songs expressed by a multi-ethnic choir - made up of Filipinos, Africans, Sri Lankans, Indians, Latin Americans and Italians - who through their rhythms literally made made many faithful dance.  Even the incense used in the celebration comes from the Bokolmanyo camp in Ethiopia, where 40 thousand refugees live.

In his homily, Francis recalls that in Sacred Scripture, "loving care for the less privileged is presented as a characteristic trait of the God of Israel and is  likewise required, as a moral duty, of all those who would belong to his people" .

He then quoted his Message for the 105th Day of the Migrant and the Refugee, entitled "It is not Just about Migrants” is repeated as a refrain.  And rightly so: 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.  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. Along with the exercise of charity, the Lord also invites us to think about the injustices that  cause exclusion – and in particular the privileges of the few, who, in order to preserve their status,  act to the detriment of the many".

He cites the impoverishment of natural and human resources in developing countries, in favor of "few privileged markets";  as well as the trade in weapons that generate wars only in "some regions of the world", while countries that sell weapons "do not want to take on the refugees produced by such conflicts".

The world, and even we Christians, risk being similar to the rich man of today's Gospel (Luke 16, 19-31), who does not notice the presence of the beggar Lazarus at his door.

 "Too intent on buying elegant clothes and organizing  lavish banquets, the rich man in the parable is blind to Lazarus’s suffering.  Overly concerned with  preserving our own well-being, we too risk being blind to our brothers and sisters in difficulty. Yet, 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.  We must not fail to weep.  We must not fail to respond”.  And he added: "We must ask the Lord for the grace to weep.  We ask the Lord to weep over this sin! ".

 "The commandment is to love God and love our neighbour; the two cannot be  separated!  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".

Pope Francis concluded "God gave this holy commandment to his people and sealed it with the blood of his Son  Jesus, to be a source of blessing for all mankind.  So that all together we can work to build the  human family according to his original plan, revealed in Jesus Christ: all are brothers and sisters, all  are sons and daughters of the same Father".

Before the recital of the Angelus, at the end of the Mass, Pope Francis thanked the participants and asked for prayers for Cameroon, where tomorrow a national dialogue meeting will be held to overcome a "difficult crisis that has been afflicting the country for years", dominated  for over 37 years by President Paul Biya.

At the conclusion of the celebration and after greeting cardinals, bishops and priests, and taking a tour among the faithful on the popemobil Francis inaugurated a sculpture by Timothy Schmaltz whose theme is a verse from the Letter to the Hebrews: "Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it."(13.2).  "This sculpture - explained the pontiff - in bronze and clay, depicts a group of migrants from various cultures and different historical periods.  I wanted this artistic work here in St. Peter's Square, so that it can remind everyone of the evangelical challenge of hospitality ".

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