Sometimes “they are exploited by criminal traffickers; they are treated like numbers and as a threat by some authorities"," many times they do not let them land in ports ". Best wishes to those "in the Far East" who on January 25th celebrate the Lunar New Year.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - As Christians we can and must testify that "there is not only hostility and indifference" towards many people who risk their lives to escape from wars and poverty and sometimes "are exploited by criminal traffickers; they are treated as numbers and as a threat by some authorities", "often they do not let them land in ports".
Pope Francis returned to the theme of hospitality, chosen for the current Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, asking people at today's general audience, to "welcome" migrants.
And at the end of the audience, Francis also had a thought for the celebration of the Chinese New Year. "Next January 25 - he said - in the Far East and in various other parts of the world, many millions of men and women will celebrate the lunar new year. I send them my cordial greeting, in particular wishing families to be places of education for the virtues of hospitality, wisdom, respect for each person and harmony with creation. I invite everyone to pray also for peace, for dialogue and for solidarity between nations: gifts that are more necessary than ever in today's world ".
Previously, in the speech addressed to the seven thousand people present in the Paul VI room for the general audience, Francis also spoke about the issue of migrants when speaking of the "ecumenical hospitality".
"This year's theme - he said - which is that of hospitality, was developed by the communities of Malta and Gozo, starting from the passage of the Acts of the Apostles which narrates the hospitality reserved by the inhabitants of Malta to St Paul and his traveling companions, shipwrecked together with him ".
The Pope recalled that after a storm lasting 14 days, the ship on which the apostle travels arrives on the island, safe, as Paul said. In Malta “they experience something new. In contrast to the brutal violence of the stormy sea, they receive the testimony of the 'rare humanity' of the inhabitants of the island. These people, foreign to them, are attentive to their needs. They light a fire to warm up, offer them shelter from rain and food. "
"Hospitality - continued Francis - is an important ecumenical virtue. First of all, it means recognizing that other Christians are truly our brothers and sisters in Christ. We are brothers, someone will say: but he is Protestant, he is Orthodox. Yes, but we are brothers. It is not an act of one-way generosity, because when we host other Christians we welcome them as a gift that is given to us. Just as the Maltese were repaid, because we receive what the Holy Spirit has sown in these brothers and sisters of ours, and this becomes a gift for us too ".
"Welcoming Christians of another tradition means first of all showing God's love for them, because they are children of God, our brothers and sisters. It also means welcoming what God has accomplished in their lives. Ecumenical hospitality requires willingness to listen to other Christians, paying attention to their personal stories of faith and the history of their community of faith with another tradition. Ecumenical hospitality involves the desire to know the experience that other Christians have of God and the expectation of receiving the spiritual gifts that derive from it. And that is a grace. In my land for example, when some evangelical missionaries came, some Catholics went to burn their tents. We are brothers".
“Today - he said again - the sea on which Paul and his companions were shipwrecked is once again a dangerous place for the lives of other sailors. All over the world migrant men and women face risky journeys to escape violence, war and poverty. Like Paul and his companions, they experience indifference in the hostility of the desert, rivers, seas ... Often they are not even allowed to land in ports. Today. But, unfortunately, sometimes they also encounter far worse hostility from humans. They are exploited by criminal traffickers; they are treated as numbers and as a threat by some authorities; sometimes hospitality repels them back towards the poverty or the dangers from which they fled".
"We, as Christians, must work together to show migrants the love of God revealed by Jesus Christ. We can and must testify that there is not only hostility and indifference, but that every person is precious to God and loved by him. The divisions that still exist between us prevent us from being fully the sign of God's love. Working together to live true hospitality, especially to those whose lives are most vulnerable, will make us all, all Christians, better human beings, better disciples and a more united Christian people. It will bring us closer to unity, which is God's will for us. "
"As Christians - he added in his greeting to the Arabic-speaking pilgrims - we cannot be indifferent to the tragedy of the old and new poverty, of the darkest solitudes, of contempt and discrimination. We cannot remain numb, with an anesthetized heart, in the face of the misery of so many innocent people. Let's work together to show everyone the love of God revealed by Jesus Christ, and this will make us better human beings, better disciples and a more united Christian people. "