Pope says the future is built with migrants
In his message for World Day of Migrants and Refugees (25 September), Francis notes that Isaiah saw “foreigners not [as] invaders or destroyers, but [as] willing labourers” to “rebuild the walls of the new Jerusalem.” The pontiff also highlighted the contribution of Catholic migrants to their host societies.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis released a message for the 108th World Day of Migrants and Refugees, which the Church will celebrate on 25 September.
Titled Building the Future with Migrants and Refugees, the message was presented today in the Vatican, along with a video, during a press conference. In it, the pontiff says that migrants are not invaders but builders of the future together with their host societies.
Inspired by a verse of the Letter to the Hebrews, the message says: “Here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come (Heb 13:14).” Thus, “The ultimate meaning of our ‘journey’ in this world is the search for our true homeland, the Kingdom of God inaugurated by Jesus Christ, which will find its full realization when he comes in glory.”
Such a kingdom rests on justice, which requires “an intense work of construction, in which all of us must be personally involved.” However, “The tragedies of history remind us how far we are from arriving at our goal, the new Jerusalem, ‘the dwelling place of God with men’ (Rev 21:3).
“Yet this does not mean that we should lose heart. In the light of what we have learned in the tribulations of recent times, we are called to renew our commitment to building a future that conforms ever more fully to God’s plan of a world in which everyone can live in peace and dignity.”
“No one must be excluded. God’s plan is essentially inclusive and gives priority to those living on the existential peripheries. Among them are many migrants and refugees, displaced persons, and victims of trafficking. The Kingdom of God is to be built with them, for without them it would not be the Kingdom that God wants. The inclusion of those most vulnerable is the necessary condition for full citizenship in God’s Kingdom.”
However, we can build “the Future with Migrants and Refugees” by acknowledging and appreciating what each of them has to offer. Francis cites in this regard the Prophet Isaiah whose “prophetic vision [. . .] considers foreigners not invaders or destroyers, but willing labourers who rebuild the walls of the new Jerusalem, that Jerusalem whose gates are open to all peoples (cf. Is 60:10-11).”
Ultimately, it is a question of seeing foreigners as a source of enrichment because “history teaches us that the contribution of migrants and refugees has been fundamental to the social and economic growth of our societies. [. . .] Yet this contribution could be all the greater were it optimized and supported by carefully developed programs and initiatives.”
In addition to economic opportunities, the presence of migrants favours cultural and spiritual growth in everyone as well. “We can grow in our common humanity and build together an ever greater sense of togetherness. Openness to one another creates spaces of fruitful exchange between different visions and traditions, and opens minds to new horizons. It also leads to a discovery of the richness present in other religions and forms of spirituality unfamiliar to us, and this helps us to deepen our own convictions.”
Lest we forget, “the arrival of Catholic migrants and refugees can energize the ecclesial life of the communities that welcome them. Often they bring an enthusiasm that can revitalize our communities and enliven our celebrations. Sharing different expressions of faith and devotions offers us a privileged opportunity for experiencing more fully the catholicity of the People of God.”
Finally, “if we want to cooperate with our heavenly Father in building the future, let us do so together with our brothers and sisters who are migrants and refugees. Let us build the future today! For the future begins today and it begins with each of us. We cannot leave to future generations the burden of responsibility for decisions that need to be made now, so that God’s plan for the world may be realized and his Kingdom of justice, fraternity, and peace may come.”