"These least ones are abandoned and cheated into dying in the desert; these least ones are tortured, abused and violated in detention camps; these least ones face the waves of an unforgiving sea; these least ones are left in reception camps too long for them to be called temporary".
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Migrants "are first and foremost human beings", and "today they are the symbol of all the rejected by the globalized society," were the words of reminder from Pope Francis on the sixth anniversary of his visit to Lampedusa (in the photo). Celebrating Mass, he strove to make the voice of those who risk their lives, and sometimes lose it, in an attempt to find better living conditions, heard. Salvation, liberation and solidarity are the keys to Francis' thoughts as he warned: "no one is exempt if we wish to fulfil the mission of salvation and liberation in which the Lord himself has called us to cooperate".
The Pope, to commemorate the anniversary of the first trip of the pontificate, gathered 250 people in the basilica of St. Peter. Migrants and volunteers, greeted one by one, at the end of the liturgy. Among them Francis significantly wanted don Carmelo La Magra, parish priest of Lampedusa, who became famous also for the nights spent outdoors, to indicate his closeness to the Sea Watch migrants, and Fr Mattia Ferrari priest of the Mediterranean NGO. Journalists were not allowed to participate today.
"Jesus - says Francis - reveals to his disciples the need for a preferential option for the least, those who must be given the front row in the exercise of charity. There are many forms of poverty today; as Saint John Paul II wrote: “The ‘poor’, in varied states of affliction, are the oppressed, those on the margin of society, the elderly, the sick, the young, any and all who are considered and treated as ‘the least’” (Apostolic Exhortation Vita Consecrata, 82).
"On this sixth anniversary of the visit to Lampedusa, my thoughts go out to those “least ones” who daily cry out to the Lord, asking to be freed from the evils that afflict them. These least ones are abandoned and cheated into dying in the desert; these least ones are tortured, abused and violated in detention camps; these least ones face the waves of an unforgiving sea; these least ones are left in reception camps too long for them to be called temporary. These are only some of the least ones who Jesus asks us to love and raise up. Unfortunately the existential peripheries of our cities are densely populated with persons who have been thrown away, marginalized, oppressed, discriminated against, abused, exploited, abandoned, poor and suffering. In the spirit of the Beatitudes we are called to comfort them in their affliction and offer them mercy; to sate their hunger and thirst for justice; to let them experience God’s caring fatherliness; to show them the way to the Kingdom of Heaven. They are persons; these are not mere social or migrant issues! “This is not just about migrants”, in the twofold sense that migrants are first of all human persons, and that they are the symbol of all those rejected by today’s globalized society".
"We spontaneously return to the image of Jacob’s ladder. In Christ Jesus, the connection between earth and heaven is guaranteed and is accessible to all. Yet climbing the steps of this ladder requires commitment, effort and grace. The weakest and most vulnerable must to be helped. I like to think that we could be those angels ascending and descending, taking under our wings the little ones, the lame, the sick, those excluded: the least ones, who would otherwise stay behind and would experience only grinding poverty on earth, without glimpsing in this life anything of heaven’s brightness.This is a tremendous responsibility, from which no one is exempt if we wish to fulfil the mission of salvation and liberation in which the Lord himself has called us to cooperate". (FP)