Pope: excluding migrants is scandalous, sinful, and criminal
On the day of the canonisation of Bishop Giovanni Battista Scalabrini and Salesian Artemide Zatti, Francis noted that not opening the doors to migrants means sending them to camps. Given the present risk of nuclear war, we should “learn from history”. At the end, Francis offered prayers for the victims of violence in Thailand.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis today presided over the canonisation Mass of Bishop Giovanni Battista Scalabrini (1839-1905), the bishop of migrants, and layman Artemide Zatti (1880-1951), a Salesian missionary among the poor in Argentina.
In his homily during this morning’s service in St Peter's Square, the pontiff issued a new, scathing warning against the exclusion of migrants. For him, “The exclusion of emigrants is scandalous. Actually, the exclusion of emigrants is criminal. They are dying right in front of us, as the Mediterranean is the largest cemetery in the world..
Not opening doors to them “is revolting, sinful and criminal,” he added, off the cuff. Even worse, “we do not exclude them, we send them away to camps, where they are exploited and sold like slaves.”
Instead, “Brothers and sisters, today let us call to mind these emigrants, especially those who are dying. And those who are able to enter, do we welcome them as brothers and sisters or do we exploit them? I simply pose the question.”
The passage in today’s Gospel (Luke) refers to the ten lepers healed by Jesus. One of them, the only Samaritan, goes back to give thanks – this offers Francis an opportunity to reflect during the homily about “walking together”.
“At the beginning of the account, there is no difference between the Samaritan and the other nine. We only hear that they are lepers, who together, as a group, approach Jesus.”
Whenever the “social disease", which leads to marginalisation, “and fragility are shared, barriers fall and exclusion is overcome.” What is more, “We should also note that the Samaritan, although considered a heretic, ‘a foreigner’, is part of their group.”
"This image is also meaningful for us: when we are honest with ourselves, we realise that we are all sick at heart, all sinners in need of the Father’s mercy. Then we stop creating divisions on the basis of merit, social position or some other superficial criterion; our interior barriers and prejudices likewise fall. In the end, we realise once more that we are brothers and sisters.”
“Brothers and sisters, let us reflect and see if in our lives, in our families, in the places where we daily work and spend our time, we are capable of walking together with others, listening to them, resisting the temptation to lock ourselves up in self-absorption and to think only of our own needs. To walk together – to be ‘synodal’ – is also the vocation of the Church.
“Let us ask ourselves if we are really communities truly open and inclusive of all; if we cooperate, as priests and laity, in the service of the Gospel; and if we show ourselves welcoming, not only in words but with concrete gestures, to those both near and far, and all those buffeted by the ups and downs of life.”
“I am troubled when I see Christian communities that divide the world into the good and the bad, saints and sinners: this makes them feel superior to others and exclude so many people that God wants to embrace. Please, always be inclusive: in the Church and in society, which is still marred by many forms of inequality and marginalisation.”
Gratitude is the other element the pope drew from the Gospel dedicated to the ten lepers. “This is a great lesson also for us, brothers and sisters, who daily benefit from the gifts of God, yet so often go our own way, failing to cultivate a living and real relationship with him. “
“Artemide Zatti – with his bicycle - was a living example of gratitude. Cured of tuberculosis, he devoted his entire life to serving others, caring for the infirm with tender love.”
At the Angelus, recited at the end of the service, Francis spoke about the 60th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council on 11 October, noting, “we should not forget the danger of nuclear war that menaced the world right at that time. Why don’t we learn from history?
“Even at that moment, there were conflicts and huge tensions, but the way of peace was chosen. It is written in the Bible: ‘Thus says the Lord: ‘Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls’ (Jer 6:16).”
At the end, the pontiff offered his prayers for the victims of the massacre at the Uthai Sawan childcare centre, in Thailand. "With great emotion I entrust their lives to the Father of life, especially the little children and their families,” he said.