Pope Francis       

29.12.13 Angelus, St Peter's Square

Feast of the Holy Family of Nazareth  Year A     

Matthew 2: 13-15, 19-23 

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

On this first Sunday after Christmas, the Liturgy invites us to celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family of Nazareth. Indeed, every nativity scene shows us Jesus together with Our Lady and St Joseph in the grotto of Bethlehem. God wanted to be born into a human family, he wanted to have a mother and father like us.

And today the Gospel presents the Holy Family to us on the sorrowful road of exile, seeking refuge in Egypt. Joseph, Mary and Jesus experienced the tragic fate of refugees, which is marked by fear, uncertainty and unease (cf. Mt 2:13-15; 19-23). Unfortunately, in our own time, millions of families can identify with this sad reality. Almost every day the television and papers carry news of refugees fleeing from hunger, war and other grave dangers, in search of security and a dignified life for themselves and for their families.

In distant lands, even when they find work, refugees and immigrants do not always find a true welcome, respect and appreciation for the values they bring. Their legitimate expectations collide with complex and difficult situations which at times seem insurmountable. Therefore, as we fix our gaze on the Holy Family of Nazareth as they were forced to become refugees, let us think of the tragedy of those migrants and refugees who are victims of rejection and exploitation, who are victims of human trafficking and of slave labour. But let us also think of the other “exiles”: I would call them “hidden exiles”, those exiles who can be found within their own families: the elderly for example who are sometimes treated as a burdensome presence. I often think that a good indicator for knowing how a family is doing is seeing how their children and elderly are treated.

Jesus wanted to belong to a family who experienced these hardships, so that no one would feel excluded from the loving closeness of God. The flight into Egypt caused by Herod’s threat shows us that God is present where man is in danger, where man is suffering, where he is fleeing, where he experiences rejection and abandonment; but God is also present where man dreams, where he hopes to return in freedom to his homeland and plans and chooses life for his family and dignity for himself and his loved ones.

Today our gaze on the Holy Family lets us also be drawn into the simplicity of the life they led in Nazareth. It is an example that does our families great good, helping them increasingly to become communities of love and reconciliation, in which tenderness, mutual help, and mutual forgiveness is experienced. Let us remember the three key words for living in peace and joy in the family: “may I”, thank you” and “sorry”. In our family, when we are not intrusive and ask “may I”, in our family when we are not selfish and learn to say “thank you”, and when in a family one realizes he has done something wrong and knows how to say “sorry”, in that family there is peace and joy. Let us remember these three words. Can we repeat them all together: may I, thank you, sorry. (Everyone: may I, thank you, sorry!) I would also like to encourage families to become aware of the importance they have in the Church and in society. The proclamation of the Gospel, in fact, first passes through the family to reach the various spheres of daily life.

Let us fervently call upon Mary Most Holy, the Mother of Jesus and our Mother, and St Joseph her spouse. Let us ask them to enlighten, comfort and guide every family in the world, so that they may fulfil with dignity and peace the mission which God has entrusted to them.


Pope Francis          

Vatican Basilica      

This year I wanted to celebrate the World Day of Migrants and Refugees with a Mass that invites and welcomes you especially who are migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. Some of you have recently arrived in Italy, others are long-time residents and work here, and still others make up the so-called “second-generation”.

For everyone in this assembly, the Word of God has resonated and today invites us to deepen the special call that the Lord addresses to each one of us. As he did with Samuel (cf 1 Sm 3:3b-10,19), he calls us by name - each one of us - and asks us to honour the fact that each of us has been created a unique and unrepeatable being, each different from the others and each with a singular role in the history of the world. In the Gospel (cf Jn 1:35-42), the two disciples of John ask Jesus, “Where do you live?” (v. 38), implying that the reply to this question would determine their judgment upon the master from Nazareth. The response of Jesus is clear: “Come and see!” (v. 39), and opens up to a personal encounter which requires sufficient time to welcome, to know and to acknowledge the other.

In the Message for this year’s World Day of Migrants and Refugees I have written, “Every stranger who knocks at our door is an opportunity for an encounter with Jesus Christ, who identifies with the welcomed and rejected strangers of every age (Mt 25:35,43).” And for the stranger, the migrant, the refugee, the asylum seeker and the displaced person, every door in a new land is also an opportunity to encounter Jesus. His invitation “Come and see!” is addressed today to all of us, to local communities and to new arrivals. It is an invitation to overcome our fears so as to encounter the other, to welcome, to know and to acknowledge him or her. It is an invitation which offers the opportunity to draw near to the other and see where and how he or she lives. In today’s world, for new arrivals to welcome, to know and to acknowledge means to know and respect the laws, the culture and the traditions of the countries that take them in. It even includes understanding their fears and apprehensions for the future. And for local communities to welcome, to know and to acknowledge newcomers means to open themselves without prejudices to their rich diversity, to understand the hopes and potential of the newly arrived as well as their fears and vulnerabilities.

True encounter with the other does not end with welcome, but involves us all in the three further actions which I spelled out in the Message for this Day: to protect, to promote and to integrate. In the true encounter with the neighbour, are we capable of recognizing Jesus Christ who is asking to be welcomed, protected, promoted and integrated? As the Gospel parable of the final judgment teaches us: the Lord was hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, a stranger and in prison -- by some he was helped and by others not (cf Mt 25:31-46). This true encounter with Christ is source of salvation, a salvation which should be announced and brought to all, as the apostle Andrew shows us. After revealing to his brother Simon, “We have found the Messiah” (Jn 1:41), Andrew brings him to Jesus so that Simon can have the same experience of encounter.

It is not easy to enter into another culture, to put oneself in the shoes of people so different from us, to understand their thoughts and their experiences. As a result we often refuse to encounter the other and raise barriers to defend ourselves. Local communities are sometimes afraid that the newly arrived will disturb the established order, will ‘steal’ something they have long laboured to build up. And the newly arrived also have fears: they are afraid of confrontation, judgment, discrimination, failure. These fears are legitimate, based on doubts that are fully comprehensible from a human point of view. Having doubts and fears is not a sin. The sin is to allow these fears to determine our responses, to limit our choices, to compromise respect and generosity, to feed hostility and rejection. The sin is to refuse to encounter the other, the different, the neighbour, when this is in fact a privileged opportunity to encounter the Lord.

From this encounter with Jesus present in the poor, the rejected, the refugee, the asylum seeker, flows our prayer of today. It is a reciprocal prayer: migrants and refugees pray for local communities, and local communities pray for the newly arrived and for migrants who have been here longer. To the maternal intercession of Mary Most Holy we entrust the hopes of all the world’s migrants and refugees and the aspirations of the communities which welcome them. In this way, responding to the supreme commandment of charity and love of neighbour, may we all learn to love the other, the stranger, as ourselves.


Pope Francis 

15.02.19 Holy Mass Fraterna Domus Centre, Sacrofano    

Meeting about reception structures for Migrants and Refugees " Free from Fear"  

Exodus 14: 13,    Matthew 14: 22-33


The Israelites at the Red Sea, in the Book of Exodus, illustrate how we are called to look beyond the adversities of the moment, to overcome fear and to place full trust in the saving and mysterious action of the Lord.

In the Gospel of St Matthew the disciples cried out in fear at the sight of Jesus walking on the waters, and His response to them: "Courage, it is I, do not be afraid”. "Free from fear" is the theme chosen for this meeting, it is through these biblical episodes that the Lord speaks to us today and asks us to let Him free us from our fears.

Faced with the wickedness and ugliness of our time we too are tempted to abandon our dream of freedom. We are tempted to shut ourselves off within ourselves in our fragile human security…in our reassuring routine.

This retreat into oneself, is a sign of defeat, one that increases our fear of others, foreigners, outcasts and strangers. This is particularly evident today with the arrival of migrants and refugees who knock on our door in search of protection, security and a better future.

Fear is legitimate but it can lead us to give up encountering others and to raise barriers to defend ourselves. Instead, we are called to overcome our fear, knowing the Lord does not abandon His people. The encounter with the other is also an encounter with Christ…even if our eyes have difficulty recognizing Him. He is the one with ragged clothes, dirty feet, agonized faces, sore bodies, unable to speak our language.

We should begin to thank those who give us the opportunity of this meeting, that is, the ‘others’ who knock at our door, and offer us the possibility of overcoming our fears, meeting, welcoming and assisting Jesus.

And those who have had the strength to let themselves be freed from fear need to help others do the same, so they too can prepare themselves for their own encounter with Christ.


Pope Francis       

08.07.19  Holy Mass for Migrants,  St Peter's Basilica, Rome

Monday of 14th Week of Ordinary Time   Year C    

Genesis 28: 10-22A,   Matthew 9: 18-26 

Today the word of God speaks to us of salvation and liberation.

Salvation. During his journey from Beersheba to Haran, Jacob decides to stop and rest in a solitary place. In a dream, he sees a ladder: its base rests on the earth and its top reaches to heaven (cf. Gen 28:10-22). The ladder, on which angels of God are ascending and descending, represents the connection between the divine and the human, fulfilled historically in Christ’s incarnation (cf. Jn 1:51), which was the Father’s loving gift of revelation and salvation. The ladder is an allegory of the divine action that precedes all human activity. It is the antithesis of the Tower of Babel, built by men with their own strength, who wanted to reach heaven to become gods. In this case, however, it is God who comes down; it is the Lord who reveals himself; it is God who saves. And Emmanuel, God-with-us, fulfils the promise of mutual belonging between the Lord and humanity, in the sign of an incarnate and merciful love that gives life in abundance.

Faced with this revelation, Jacob makes an act of trust in the Lord, which becomes a work of recognition and adoration that marks a key moment in the history of salvation. He asks the Lord to protect him on the difficult journey he must make, and says: “The Lord shall be my God” (Gen 28:21).

Echoing the words of the patriarch, we repeated in the psalm: “O my God, I trust in you”. He is our refuge and our strength, our shield and our armour, our anchor in times of trial. The Lord is a refuge for the faithful who call on him in times of tribulation. For it is indeed at such moments that our prayer is made purer, when we realize that the security the world offers has little worth, and only God remains. God alone opens up heaven for those who live on earth. Only God saves.

This total and absolute trust is shared by the head of the synagogue and the sick woman in the Gospel (cf. Mt 9:18-26). These are scenes of liberation. Both draw close to Jesus in order to obtain from him what no one else can give them: liberation from sickness and from death. On the one hand, there is the daughter of one of the city authorities; on the other, a woman afflicted by a sickness that has made her an outcast, marginalized, someone impure. But Jesus makes no distinctions: liberation is generously given to each of them. Their longing places both the woman and the girl among the “least” who are to be loved and raised up.

Jesus 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, brothers and sisters, 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. I know that many of you, who arrived just a few months ago, are already assisting brothers and sisters who have come even more recently. I want to thank you for this most beautiful example of humanity, gratitude and solidarity.


Pope Francis       

29.09.19  St Peter's Square,  Holy Mass World Day for Migrants and Refugees   

26th Sunday of Ordinary Time  Year C           

Amos 6: 1A, 4-7,    Psalms 146; 7-10,      

1 Timothy 6: 11-16,   Luke 16: 19-31 

Today’s Responsorial Psalm reminds us that the Lord upholds the stranger as well as the widow and the orphan among his people. The Psalmist makes explicit mention of those persons who are especially vulnerable, often forgotten and subject to oppression. The Lord has a particular concern for foreigners, widows and orphans, for they are without rights, excluded and marginalized. This is why God tells the Israelites to give them special care.

In the Book of Exodus, the Lord warns his people not to mistreat in any way widows and orphans, for he hears their cry (cf. 22:23). Deuteronomy sounds the same warning twice (cf. 24:17; 27:19), and includes strangers among this group requiring protection. The reason for that warning is explained clearly in the same book: the God of Israel is the one who “executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing” (10:18). This 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.

That is why we must pay special attention to the strangers in our midst as well as to widows, orphans and all the outcasts of our time. In the Message for this 105th World Day of Migrants and Refugees, the theme “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. “Today’s world is increasingly becoming more elitist and cruel towards the excluded”: this is a painful truth; our word is daily more and more elitist, more cruel towards the excluded. “Developing countries continue to be drained of their best natural and human resources for the benefit of a few privileged markets. Wars only affect some regions of the world, yet weapons of war are produced and sold in other regions which are then unwilling to take in the refugees generated by these conflicts. Those who pay the price are always the little ones, the poor, the most vulnerable, who are prevented from sitting at the table and are left with the ‘crumbs’ of the banquet” (Message for the 105th World Day of Migrants and Refugees).

It is in this context that the harsh words of the Prophet Amos proclaimed in the first reading (6:1.4-7) should be understood. Woe to those who are at ease and seek pleasure in Zion, who do not worry about the ruin of God’s people, even though it is in plain sight. They do not notice the destruction of Israel because they are too busy ensuring that they can still enjoy the good life, delicious food and fine drinks. It is striking how, twenty-eight centuries later, these warnings remain as timely as ever. For today too, the “culture of comfort… makes us think only of ourselves, makes us insensitive to the cries of other people… which results in indifference to others; indeed, it even leads to the globalization of indifference” (Homily in Lampedusa, 8 July 2013).

In the end, we too risk becoming like that rich man in the Gospel who is unconcerned for the poor man Lazarus, “covered with sores, who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table” (Lk 16:20-21). 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. Let us ask the Lord for the grace of tears, the tears that can convert our hearts before such sins.

If we want to be men and women of God, as Saint Paul urges Timothy, we must “keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Tm 6:14). 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.

Loving our neighbour means feeling compassion for the sufferings of our brothers and sisters, drawing close to them, touching their sores and sharing their stories, and thus manifesting concretely God’s tender love for them. This means being a neighbour to all those who are mistreated and abandoned on the streets of our world, soothing their wounds and bringing them to the nearest shelter, where their needs can be met.

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.

Today we also need a mother. So we entrust to the maternal love of Mary, Our Lady of the Way, of so many painful journeys, all migrants and refugees, together with those who live on the peripheries of our world and those who have chosen to share their journey.


Pope Francis          

22.01.20   General Audience,  Pope VI Audience Hall        

Catechesis on Christian Unity      

Acts 28: 2   

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Today's catechesis is harmonised with the Week of Prayer for the Unity of Christians. This year's theme, which is that of hospitality, was developed by the communities of Malta and Gozo, starting from the passage of the Acts of the Apostles that tells of the hospitality reserved by the inhabitants of Malta to St Paul and his fellow travellers, who were shipwrecked together with him. I referred to just this episode in my catechesis of two weeks ago.

So let us start from the dramatic experience of that shipwreck. The ship in which Paul was travelling was at the mercy of the elements. They had been at sea for fourteen days, adrift, and since neither the sun nor the stars are visible, the seafarers felt disoriented, lost. Beneath them the sea is striking violently against the ship and they fear that it will break under the force of the waves. From above they are lashed by the wind and rain. The strength of the sea and the storm is terribly powerful and indifferent to the fate of the seafarers: there were more than 260 people!

But Paul who knows that is not like this, speaks. His faith tells him that his life is in the hands of God, who rose Jesus from the dead, and who called him, Paul, to bring the gospel to the ends of the earth. His faith also tells him that God, according to what Jesus has revealed, is a loving Father. Therefore Paul turns to his fellow travellers and, inspired by faith, announces to them that God will not allow a hair of their head to be lost.

This prophecy comes true when the ship runs aground on the coast of Malta and all of the passengers reach the mainland safely. And there 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 them up, and give them shelter from the rain and food. Even though they have not yet received the Good News of Christ, they show God's love in concrete acts of kindness. In fact, spontaneous hospitality and thoughtful gestures communicate something about God's love. And the hospitality of the Maltese islanders is repaid by the miracles of healing that God works through Paul on the island. So, if the people of Malta were a sign of God's Providence for the Apostle, he too witnessed God's merciful love for them.

Dear ones, hospitality is important; and it is also an important ecumenical virtue. First of all, it means acknowledging that other Christians are truly our brothers and sisters in Christ. We're brothers. Someone will tell you: "But that is Protestant, the orthodox one ..." Yes, but we are brothers in Christ. It is not an one-way act of generosity, because when we give hospitality to other Christians we welcome them as a gift that is given to us. Like the Maltese - these good Maltese - we are rewarded, because we receive what the Holy Spirit has sown in these brothers and sisters of ours, and this becomes a gift for us too, because the Holy Spirit also sows his graces everywhere. Welcoming Christians of another tradition means firstly showing God's love to them, because they are children of God – our brothers – and also means welcoming what God has accomplished in their lives. Ecumenical hospitality requires a willingness to listen to others, paying attention to their personal stories of faith and the history of their community, communities of faith with another tradition other than our own. Ecumenical hospitality involves the desire to know the experience that other Christians have of God and the expectation of receiving the spiritual gifts that come with it. And this is a grace, discovering this is a grace. I think of the past, my land for example. When some evangelical missionaries came, a small group of Catholics went to burn their tents. This is not: it is not Christian. We are brothers, we are all brothers and we have to give hospitality with each other.

Today, the sea on which Paul and his companions were shipwrecked is once again a dangerous place for the lives of other seafarers. All over the world, migrant men and women face risky journeys to escape violence, to escape war, to escape poverty. As Paul and his companions experience indifference, the hostility of the desert, of rivers, of the seas... So many times they don't let them land in the ports. But, unfortunately, they sometimes also encounter much worse hostility from men. They are exploited by criminal traffickers: today! They are treated as numbers and as a threat by some rulers: today! Sometimes inhospitality rejects them like a wave back to the poverty or the dangers from which they have 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 ecumenical hospitality, especially towards those whose lives are most vulnerable, will make us all Christians – Protestants, Orthodox, Catholics, all Christians – better human beings, better disciples and a Christian people that is more united. It will bring us ever closer to unity, which is God's will for us.


Pope Francis       

08.07.20 Holy Mass Casa Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae) 

Wednesday of the 14th Week in Ordinary Time 

Hosea 10: 1-3, 7-8, 12      Psalm 105: 2-7,       

Matthew 10: 1-7 

The Responsorial Psalm invites us always to seek the Lord’s face: “Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually” (Ps 105:4). This quest is fundamental for the life of every believer, for we have come to realize that our ultimate goal in life is the encounter with God.

To seek the face of God is an assurance that our journey through this world will end well. It is an exodus towards the Promised Land, our heavenly home. The face of God is our destination and the guiding star that helps us not to lose our way.

The people of Israel, as described by the prophet Hosea in the first reading (cf. 10:1-3.7-8.12), had gone astray. They had lost sight of the Promised Land and were wandering in the desert of iniquity. Abundance, prosperity and wealth had caused their hearts to drift away from the Lord and had filled them instead with falsehood and injustice.

We too, as Christians today, are not immune to this sin. “The culture of comfort, which makes us think only of ourselves, makes us insensitive to the cries of other people, makes us live in soap bubbles which, however lovely, are insubstantial; they offer a fleeting and empty illusion which results in indifference to others; indeed, it even leads to the globalization of indifference. In this globalized world, we have fallen into globalized indifference. We have become used to the suffering of others: it doesn’t affect me; it doesn’t concern me; it’s none of my business!” (Homily in Lampedusa, 8 July 2013).

Hosea’s words reach us today as a renewed summons to conversion, a call to turn our eyes to the Lord and recognize his face. The prophet says: “Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you” (10:12).

Our efforts to seek the face of God are born of the desire for an encounter with the Lord, a personal encounter, an encounter with his immense love, with his saving power. The twelve apostles described in today’s Gospel (cf. Mt 10:1-7) received the grace to encounter him physically in Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son of God. Jesus – as we heard – called each of them by name. He looked them in the eye, and they in turn gazed at his face, listened to his voice and beheld his miracles. The personal encounter with the Lord, a time of grace and salvation, entails a mission: “As you go”, Jesus tells them, proclaim the good news: ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand’” (v. 7). Encounter and mission must not be separated.

This kind of personal encounter with Jesus Christ is possible also for us, who are the disciples of the third millennium. In our effort to seek the Lord’s face, we can recognize him in the face of the poor, the sick, the abandoned, and the foreigners whom God places on our way. This encounter becomes also for us a time of grace and salvation, and summons us to the same mission entrusted to the Apostles.

Today marks the seventh year, the seventh anniversary of my visit to Lampedusa. In the light of God’s word, I would like to repeat what I said to those taking part in the meeting “Free from Fear” in February last year: “The encounter with the other is also an encounter with Christ. He himself told us this. He is the one knocking on our door, hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, imprisoned; he is the one seeking an encounter with us, asking our help, asking to come ashore. And lest we have any doubt, he tells us categorically: ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did to one of the least of these my brethren, you did to me’” (Mt 25:40).

“Whatever you did...” for better or for worse! This admonition is all the more timely today. We ought to use it as a basic starting point for our daily examination of conscience. Here I think of Libya, detention camps, the abuses and violence to which migrants are subjected; I think of journeys of hope, rescue operations, and cases of rejection. “Whatever you did… you did to me.”

I remember that day, seven years ago, in the very south of Europe, on that island… A number of people told me their stories and all that they had gone through to get there. There were interpreters present. One person was telling me about terrible things in his language, and the interpreter seemed to translate well, but this person spoke so long and the translation was brief. “Well”, I thought, “their language must require more words to express an idea”. When I returned home that afternoon, in the reception area there was a lady – God bless her, she has since passed away - who was a daughter of Ethiopians. She understood the language and she had seen our conversation on television. She said this to me. “Listen, what the Ethiopian translator told you is not even a quarter of the torture and suffering that those people experienced”. They gave me the “distilled” version. This is what is happening today with Libya: they are giving us a “distilled version”. The war is indeed horrible, we know that, but you cannot imagine the hell that people are living there, in that detention camp. And those people came only with hope of crossing the sea.

May the Virgin Mary, Solacium migrantium, “Solace of Migrants”, help us discover the face of her Son in all our brothers and sisters forced to flee their homeland because of the many injustices that continue to afflict our world.


Like Jesus Christ, forced to flee.

Welcoming, protecting, promoting and integrating

internally displaced persons

At the beginning of this year, in my Address to the members of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See, I pointed to the tragedy of internally displaced people as one of the challenges of our contemporary world: “Situations of conflict and humanitarian emergencies, aggravated by climate change, are increasing the numbers of displaced persons and affecting people already living in a state of dire poverty. Many of the countries experiencing these situations lack adequate structures for meeting the needs of the displaced” (9 January 2020).

The Migrants and Refugees Section of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development has issued the document “Pastoral Orientations on Internally Displaced People” (Vatican City, 5 May 2020), which aims to inspire and encourage the pastoral work of the Church in this specific area.

For these reasons, I have decided to devote this Message to the drama of internally displaced persons, an often unseen tragedy that the global crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated. In fact, due to its virulence, severity and geographical extent, this crisis has impacted on many other humanitarian emergencies that affect millions of people, which has relegated to the bottom of national political agendas those urgent international efforts essential to saving lives. But “this is not a time for forgetfulness. The crisis we are facing should not make us forget the many other crises that bring suffering to so many people” (Urbi et Orbi Message, 12 April 2020).

In the light of the tragic events that have marked 2020, I would like this Message, although concerned with internally displaced persons, to embrace all those who are experiencing situations of precariousness, abandonment, marginalization and rejection as a result of COVID-19.

I would like to start with the image that inspired Pope Pius XII in his Apostolic Constitution Exsul Familia (1 August 1952). During the flight into Egypt, the child Jesus experienced with his parents the tragic fate of the displaced and refugees, “which is marked by fear, uncertainty and unease (cf. Mt 2:13-15, 19-23). Unfortunately, in our own times, millions of families can identify with this sad reality. Almost every day the television and papers carry news of refugees fleeing from hunger, war and other grave dangers, in search of security and a dignified life for themselves and for their families” (Angelus, 29 December 2013). In each of these people, forced to flee to safety, Jesus is present as he was at the time of Herod. In the faces of the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the sick, strangers and prisoners, we are called to see the face of Christ who pleads with us to help (cf. Mt 25:31-46). If we can recognize him in those faces, we will be the ones to thank him for having been able to meet, love and serve him in them.

Displaced people offer us this opportunity to meet the Lord, “even though our eyes find it hard to recognize him: his clothing in tatters, his feet dirty, his face disfigured, his body wounded, his tongue unable to speak our language” (Homily, 15 February 2019). We are called to respond to this pastoral challenge with the four verbs I indicated in my Message for this Day in 2018: welcome, protect, promote and integrate. To these words, I would now like to add another six pairs of verbs that deal with very practical actions and are linked together in a relationship of cause and effect.

You have to know in order to understand. Knowledge is a necessary step towards understanding others. Jesus himself tells us this in the account of the disciples on the road to Emmaus: “While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him” (Lk 24:15-16). When we talk about migrants and displaced persons, all too often we stop at statistics. But it is not about statistics, it is about real people! If we encounter them, we will get to know more about them. And knowing their stories, we will be able to understand them. We will be able to understand, for example, that the precariousness that we have come to experience as a result of this pandemic is a constant in the lives of displaced people.

It is necessary to be close in order to serve. It may seem obvious, yet often it is the contrary. “But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where the man was; and when he saw him, he had compassion, and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him” (Lk 10:33-34). Fears and prejudices – all too many prejudices – keep us distant from others and often prevent us from “becoming neighbours” to them and serving them with love. Drawing close to others often means being willing to take risks, as so many doctors and nurses have taught us in recent months. This readiness to draw near and serve goes beyond a mere sense of duty. Jesus gave us the greatest example of this when he washed the feet of his disciples: he took off his cloak, knelt down and dirtied his hands (cf. Jn 13:1-15).

In order to be reconciled, we need to listen. God himself taught us this by sending his Son into the world. He wanted to listen to the plea of suffering humanity with human ears: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son… that the world might be saved through him” (Jn 3:16-17). A love that reconciles and saves begins with listening. In today’s world, messages multiply but the practice of listening is being lost. Yet it is only through humble and attentive listening that we can truly be reconciled. In 2020, silence has reigned for weeks in our streets. A dramatic and troubling silence, but one that has given us the opportunity to listen to the plea of the vulnerable, the displaced and our seriously ill planet. Listening gives us an opportunity to be reconciled with our neighbour, with all those who have been “discarded”, with ourselves and with God, who never tires of offering us his mercy.

In order to grow, it is necessary to share. Sharing was an essential element of the first Christian community: “Now the company of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things which he possessed was his own, but they had everything in common” (Acts 4:32). God did not want the resources of our planet to benefit only a few. This was not the Lord’s will! We have to learn to share in order to grow together, leaving no one behind. The pandemic has reminded us how we are all in the same boat. Realizing that we have the same concerns and fears has shown us once more that no one can be saved alone. To grow truly, we must grow together, sharing what we have, like the boy who offered Jesus five barley loaves and two fish… yet they proved enough for five thousand people (cf. Jn 6:1-15)!

We need to be involved in order to promote. As Jesus was with the Samaritan woman (cf. Jn 4:1-30). The Lord approaches her, listens to her, speaks to her heart, and then leads her to the truth and makes her a herald of the Good News: “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did! Can this be the Christ?” (v. 29). Sometimes the impulse to serve others prevents us from seeing their real riches. If we really want to promote those whom we assist, we must involve them and make them agents in their own redemption. The pandemic has reminded us of how essential co-responsibility is, and that only with the contribution of everyone – even of those groups so often underestimated – can we face this crisis. We must find “the courage to create spaces where everyone can recognize that they are called, and to allow new forms of hospitality, fraternity and solidarity” (Meditation in Saint Peter’s Square, 27 March 2020).

It is necessary to cooperate in order to build. That is what the Apostle Paul tells the community of Corinth: “I appeal to you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree and that there be no dissensions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgement” (1 Cor 1:10). Building the Kingdom of God is a duty common to all Christians, and for this reason it is necessary that we learn to cooperate, without yielding to the temptation to jealousy, discord and division. In the present context it should be reiterated: “This is not a time for self-centredness, because the challenge we are facing is shared by all, without distinguishing between persons” (Urbi et Orbi Message, 12 April 2020). To preserve our common home and make it conform more and more to God’s original plan, we must commit ourselves to ensuring international cooperation, global solidarity and local commitment, leaving no one excluded.

I would like to conclude with a prayer suggested by the example of Saint Joseph at the time he was forced to flee to Egypt to save the child Jesus.

Father, you entrusted to Saint Joseph what you held most precious: the child Jesus and his Mother, in order to protect them from the dangers and threats of the wicked.

Grant that we may experience his protection and help. May he, who shared in the sufferings of those who flee from the hatred of the powerful, console and protect all our brothers and sisters driven by war, poverty and necessity to leave their homes and their lands to set out as refugees for safer places.

Help them, through the intercession of Saint Joseph, to find the strength to persevere, give them comfort in sorrows and courage amid their trials.

Grant to those who welcome them some of the tender love of this just and wise father, who loved Jesus as a true son and sustained Mary at every step of the way.

May he, who earned his bread by the work of his hands, watch over those who have seen everything in life taken away and obtain for them the dignity of a job and the serenity of a home.

We ask this through Jesus Christ, your Son, whom Saint Joseph saved by fleeing to Egypt, and trusting in the intercession of the Virgin Mary, whom he loved as a faithful husband in accordance with your will. Amen.

Rome, Saint John Lateran, 13 May 2020, Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Fatima. 


Pope Francis          

Saint John Lateran, Rome

Feast of Saints Philip and James, Apostles


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In the Encyclical Fratelli Tutti, I expressed a concern and a hope that remain uppermost in my thoughts: “Once this health crisis passes, our worst response would be to plunge even more deeply into feverish consumerism and new forms of egotistic self-preservation. God willing, after all this, we will think no longer in terms of ‘them’ and ‘those’, but only ‘us’” (No. 35).

For this reason, I have wished to devote the Message for this year’s World Day of Migrants and Refugees to the theme, Towards An Ever Wider “We”, in order to indicate a clear horizon for our common journey in this world.

The history of this “we”

That horizon is already present in God’s creative plan: “God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply’” (Gen 1:27-28). God created us male and female, different yet complementary, in order to form a “we” destined to become ever more numerous in the succession of generations. God created us in his image, in the image of his own triune being, a communion in diversity.

When, in disobedience we turned away from God, he in his mercy wished to offer us a path of reconciliation, not as individuals but as a people, a “we”, meant to embrace the entire human family, without exception: “See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them” (Rev 21:3).

Salvation history thus has a “we” in its beginning and a “we” at its end, and at its centre the mystery of Christ, who died and rose so “that they may all be one” (Jn 17:21). The present time, however, shows that this “we” willed by God is broken and fragmented, wounded and disfigured. This becomes all the more evident in moments of great crisis, as is the case with the current pandemic. Our “we”, both in the wider world and within the Church, is crumbling and cracking due to myopic and aggressive forms of nationalism (cf. Fratelli Tutti, 11) and radical individualism (cf. ibid., 105). And the highest price is being paid by those who most easily become viewed as others: foreigners, migrants, the marginalized, those living on the existential peripheries.

The truth however is that we are all in the same boat and called to work together so that there will be no more walls that separate us, no longer others, but only a single “we”, encompassing all of humanity. Thus I would like to use this World Day to address a twofold appeal, first to the Catholic faithful and then all the men and women of our world, to advance together towards an ever wider “we”.

A Church that is more and more “catholic”

For the members of the Catholic Church, this appeal entails a commitment to becoming ever more faithful to our being “catholic”, as Saint Paul reminded the community in Ephesus: “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Eph 4:4-5).

Indeed the Church’s catholicity, her universality, must be embraced and expressed in every age, according to the will and grace of the Lord who promised to be with us always, until the end of the age (cf. Mt 28:20). The Holy Spirit enables us to embrace everyone, to build communion in diversity, to unify differences without imposing a depersonalized uniformity. In encountering the diversity of foreigners, migrants and refugees, and in the intercultural dialogue that can emerge from this encounter, we have an opportunity to grow as Church and to enrich one another. All the baptized, wherever they find themselves, are by right members of both their local ecclesial community and the one Church, dwellers in one home and part of one family.

The Catholic faithful are called to work together, each in the midst of his or her own community, to make the Church become ever more inclusive as she carries out the mission entrusted to the Apostles by Jesus Christ: “As you go, proclaim the good news, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment” (Mt 10:7-8).

In our day, the Church is called to go out into the streets of every existential periphery in order to heal wounds and to seek out the straying, without prejudice or fear, without proselytising, but ready to widen her tent to embrace everyone. Among those dwelling in those existential peripheries, we find many migrants and refugees, displaced persons and victims of trafficking, to whom the Lord wants his love to be manifested and his salvation preached. “The current influx of migrants can be seen as a new “frontier” for mission, a privileged opportunity to proclaim Jesus Christ and the Gospel message at home, and to bear concrete witness to the Christian faith in a spirit of charity and profound esteem for other religious communities. The encounter with migrants and refugees of other denominations and religions represents a fertile ground for the growth of open and enriching ecumenical and interreligious dialogue” (Address to the National Directors of Pastoral Care for Migrants, 22 September 2017).

An ever more inclusive world

I also make this appeal to journey together towards an ever wider “we” to all men and women, for the sake of renewing the human family, building together a future of justice and peace, and ensuring that no one is left behind.

Our societies will have a “colourful” future, enriched by diversity and by cultural exchanges. Consequently, we must even now learn to live together in harmony and peace. I am always touched by the scene in the Acts of the Apostles when, on the day of the Church’s “baptism” at Pentecost, immediately after the descent of the Holy Spirit, the people of Jerusalem hear the proclamation of salvation: “We… Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs – in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power” (2:9-11).

This is the ideal of the new Jerusalem (cf. Is 60; Rev 21:3), where all peoples are united in peace and harmony, celebrating the goodness of God and the wonders of creation. To achieve this ideal, however, we must make every effort to break down the walls that separate us and, in acknowledging our profound interconnection, build bridges that foster a culture of encounter. Today’s migration movements offer an opportunity for us to overcome our fears and let ourselves be enriched by the diversity of each person’s gifts. Then, if we so desire, we can transform borders into privileged places of encounter, where the miracle of an ever wider “we” can come about.

I invite all men and women in our world to make good use of the gifts that the Lord has entrusted to us to preserve and make his creation even more beautiful. “A nobleman went to a distant country to get royal power for himself and then return. He summoned ten of his slaves, and gave them ten pounds, and said to them, ‘Do business with these until I come back’” (Lk 19:12-13). The Lord will also demand of us an account of our work! In order to ensure the proper care of our common home, we must become a “we” that is ever wider and more co-responsible, in the profound conviction that whatever good is done in our world is done for present and future generations. Ours must be a personal and collective commitment that cares for all our brothers and sisters who continue to suffer, even as we work towards a more sustainable, balanced and inclusive development. A commitment that makes no distinction between natives and foreigners, between residents and guests, since it is a matter of a treasure we hold in common, from whose care and benefits no one should be excluded.

The dream begins

The prophet Joel predicted that the messianic future would be a time of dreams and visions inspired by the Spirit: “I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions” (Joel 2:28). We are called to dream together, fearlessly, as a single human family, as companions on the same journey, as sons and daughters of the same earth that is our common home, sisters and brothers all (cf. Fratelli Tutti, 8).


Holy, beloved Father,

your Son Jesus taught us

that there is great rejoicing in heaven

whenever someone lost is found,

whenever someone excluded, rejected or discarded

is gathered into our “we”,

which thus becomes ever wider.

We ask you to grant the followers of Jesus,

and all people of good will,

the grace to do your will on earth.

Bless each act of welcome and outreach

that draws those in exile

into the “we” of community and of the Church,

so that our earth may truly become

what you yourself created it to be:

the common home of all our brothers and sisters. Amen.

Rome, Saint John Lateran, 3 May 2021

Feast of Saints Philip and James, Apostles 


Pope Francis          

03.12.21 Ecumenical Prayer with Migrants

Parish Church of the Holy Cross, Nicosia, Cyprus

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

It is a great joy to be here with you and to conclude my visit to Cyprus with this prayer meeting. I thank Patriarchs Pizzaballa and Béchara Raï, and Ms. Elisabeth of Caritas. I greet with affection and gratitude the representatives of the different Christian confessions present in Cyprus.

I want to say, from my heart, a big “thanks” to you, the young migrants who offered your testimonies. I received copies of them in advance, about a month ago. They made a great impression on me then, and again hearing them today. More than just moved, I had the powerful sensation that comes from encountering the beauty of truth. Jesus was moved in that way when he cried out: “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants” (Mt 11:25). I too give praise to the heavenly Father because this is happening today, here and throughout the world. God is revealing his Kingdom, his Kingdom of love, justice and peace, to the little ones.

After listening to you, we better understand all the prophetic power of the word of God, who, through the apostle Paul, tells us: “You are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God” (Eph 2:19). Those words were addressed to the Christians of Ephesus, not far from here, centuries ago, yet those words remain as timely as ever, as if they were written for us today: “You are no longer strangers, but fellow citizens”. This is the prophecy of the Church: a community that, for all its human limitations, incarnates God’s dream. For God too dreams, like you, Mariamie, from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, who described yourself as “full of dreams”. Like yourself, God dreams of a world of peace, in which all his children live as brothers and sisters. God wants this, God dreams of this. We are the ones who don’t want it.

Your presence, migrant brothers and sisters, is very significant for this celebration. Your testimonies are like a “mirror” held up to us, to our Christian communities. When you, Thamara, who come from Sri Lanka, told us that people often ask, “Who are you?”: the brutal experience of migration calls our very identity into question. “Is this what I am? I don’t know…Where are my roots? Who am I?” When you ask these questions, you remind us that we too are sometimes asked the same question: “Who are you?” And sadly, all too often, what is really being asked is: “Whose side are you on?”, “What group do you belong to?” Yet as you said, we are not numbers, names on a list; we are “brothers and sisters”, “friends”, “believers”, “neighbours” to one another. Yet when group or political interests, including those of nations, start to push, many of us end up being set aside and without wanting it, become slaves. For interest always enslaves, it always creates slaves. Love, which is expansive and the opposite of hatred, makes us free.

When you, Maccolins, who come from Cameroon, tell us that in the course of your life you have been “wounded by hate”, you spoke about this, about these wounds inflicted by interests: and you reminded us that hate has also poisoned relationships between us Christians. And this as you said, changes us; it leaves a deep and long-lasting mark. It is a poison. Yes, you made us feel this by the passion with which you spoke. Hate is a poison hard to remove, a twisted mind-set that, instead of letting us see ourselves as brothers and sisters, makes us see one another as enemies, as rivals, or even as objects to be sold or exploited.

When you, Rozh, who come from Iraq, say that you are someone “on a journey”, you remind us that we ourselves are a community on a journey; we are journeying from conflict to communion. On this road, which is long and has its ups and downs, we should not be afraid of our differences, but afraid of the close-mindedness and prejudice that can prevent us from truly encountering one another and journeying together. Close-mindedness and prejudice re-erect the wall of division, the hostility between us, that Christ tore down (cf. Eph 2:14). Our journey towards full unity can only advance to the extent that, together, we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, on him who is “our peace” (ibid.), the “cornerstone” (v. 20). It is he, the Lord Jesus, whom we encounter in the faces of our marginalized and discarded brothers and sisters. In the face of the migrant who is despised, rejected, put in a cage, exploited… But at the same time – as you said – the face of the migrant journeying to a goal, to a hope, to greater human companionship…

In all these ways, God speaks to us through your dreams. The danger is that many times we do not let our dreams in, we would rather sleep and not dream. It is easy to look the other way. And in this world we have grown accustomed to a culture of indifference, a culture of looking the other way and thus sleeping peacefully. Yet that way it is impossible to dream. God speaks through your dreams. God does not speak through people who are dreamless, because they have everything or because their hearts are hardened. God calls us not to be content with a divided world, content with divided Christian communities, but to journey through history drawn by his own dream: the dream of a humanity freed of walls of division, freed of hostility, where there are no longer strangers, but only fellow citizens, as we heard Paul say in the passage I just mentioned. Fellow citizens who are diverse, yet proud of that diversity and individuality, which are God’s gifts. Diverse, proud to be diverse, but always reconciled, always brothers and sisters.

May this island, marked by a painful division – from here I can see that wall – become by God’s grace a workshop of fraternity. I thank all those who are working to make that happen. We must realize that this island is generous, but it cannot do everything, since the number of people arriving is greater than their possibilities of insertion, integrating, accompanying and promoting. Its geographical closeness may make it easier… but it is not easy. We must understand the limits to which the island’s leaders are bound. But on this island, and I have seen this in the leaders I have met, a commitment to become, by God’s grace, a workshop of freedom. And it will, if two things can happen. First, an effective recognition of the dignity of every human person (cf. Fratelli Tutti, 8). Our dignity is not up for sale; it cannot be rented out; it must not be squandered. Hold your head high and say: I am a child of God; I have my dignity. The effective recognition of this dignity is the ethical foundation, a universal foundation, which is also at the core of Christian social doctrine. Second, a trusting openness to God the Father of all; this is the “leaven” that we, as believers, are called to offer (cf. ibid., 272).

If these two things can happen, the dream can translate into a daily journey, made up of concrete steps from conflict to communion, from hate to love, from escape to encounter. A patient journey, which day by day leads us to the land God has prepared for us. The land where, when people ask “Who are you?”, you can readily respond, “Look, I am your brother, your sister. Don’t you recognize me?” And then, go your way in peace.

As I listen to you and see your faces, I am reminded of another thing: your suffering. You arrived here, but how many of your brothers and sisters are still making the journey? How many desperate people have set out in difficult and precarious conditions, but did not arrive? We can think about this sea, which has become a great cemetery. Looking at you, I see the suffering caused by your journey; I see all those people who were kidnapped, sold, exploited… and who are still on the journey, we know not where. We are speaking of slavery, of universal enslavement. We see what is happening, and the worst thing is that we are becoming used to it. “Oh yes, today another boat capsized… so many lives were lost….” This “becoming used” to things is a grave illness, a very grave illness, and there is no antibiotic for it! We have to resist this vice of getting used to reading about these tragedies in the newspapers or hearing about them on other media.

Looking at you, I think too of all those people who had to return because they were turned away and ended up in concentration camps, real concentration camps, where the women have been sold, and men tortured and enslaved… We are appalled when we read stories of the concentration camps of the last century, those of the Nazis or those of Stalin, and we say: “How could this possibly have happened?” Brothers and sisters, it is happening today, on nearby coasts! Places of enslavement. I have seen some filmed testimonies about this: places of torture and human trafficking. I say all this because it is my responsibility to help open people’s eyes to this reality. Forced migration is not a kind of “tourism”! And our sinfulness leads us to think: “Those poor people, those poor people!”, and with those words, “poor people”, we blot everything out. This is today’s war: the suffering of our brothers and sisters, which we cannot pass over in silence. Brothers and sisters who left everything behind to get on a boat, in the dark of night, and then… without knowing if they would ever arrive.  And all those who were turned away and ended up in the concentration camps, true places of torture and enslavement.

Such is the story of this developed civilization that we call the West. And then – forgive me, but here I would like to say what is in my heart, at least so that we can pray for one another and do something – and then, there is the barbed wire. We see it here: it is part of a war of hatred dividing a country. Yet in other places, barbed wire is set up to prevent the entrance of refugees, those who come in search of freedom, food, assistance, fraternity, joy, those fleeing from hatred but then find themselves facing a form of hatred called barbed wire. May the Lord awaken the conscience of us all before these realities.

Excuse me if I have spoken of things as they really are, but we cannot remain silent and look the other way amid this culture of indifference.

May the Lord bless all of you! Thank you.

03.12.21 m

Pope Francis          

05.12.21  Visit to the Refugees "Reception and Identification Centre" 

Mytilene, Greece

Dear brothers and sisters,

Thank you for your kind words. I am grateful to you, Madam President, for your presence and your words. Sisters and brothers, I am here once again, to meet you and to assure you of my closeness. I say it from the heart. I am here to see your faces and look into your eyes. Eyes full of fear and expectancy, eyes that have seen violence and poverty, eyes streaked by too many tears. Five years ago on this island, the Ecumenical Patriarch, my dear brother Bartholomew, said something that struck me: “Those who are afraid of you have not looked you in the eye. Those who are afraid of you have not seen your faces. Those who fear you have not seen your children. They have forgotten that dignity and freedom transcend fear and division. They have forgotten that migration is not an issue for the Middle East and Northern Africa, for Europe and Greece. It is an issue for the world” (Address, 16 April 2016).

It is an issue for the whole world: a humanitarian crisis that concerns everyone. The pandemic has had a global impact; it has made us realize that we are all on the same boat; it has made us experience what it means to have identical fears. We have come to understand that the great issues must be faced together, since in today’s world piecemeal solutions are inadequate. Yet while we are working to vaccinate people worldwide and, despite many delays and hesitations, progress is being made in the fight against climate change, all this seems to be terribly absent when it comes to migration. Yet human lives, real people, are at stake! The future of us all is at stake, and that future will be peaceful only if it is integrated. Only if it is reconciled with the most vulnerable will the future be prosperous. When we reject the poor, we reject peace.

History teaches us that narrow self-interest and nationalism lead to disastrous consequences. Indeed, as the Second Vatican Council observed, “a firm determination to respect the dignity of other individuals and peoples along with the deliberate practice of fraternal love are absolutely necessary for the achievement of peace” (Gaudium et Spes, 78). It is an illusion to think it is enough to keep ourselves safe, to defend ourselves from those in greater need who knock at our door. In the future, we will have more and more contact with others. To turn it to the good, what is needed are not unilateral actions but wide-ranging policies. Let me repeat: history teaches this lesson, yet we have not learned it. Let us stop ignoring reality, stop constantly shifting responsibility, stop passing off the issue of migration to others, as if it mattered to no one and was only a pointless burden to be shouldered by somebody else!

Sisters and brothers, your faces and your eyes beg us not to look the other way, not to deny our common humanity, but make your experiences our own and to be mindful of your dramatic plight. Elie Wiesel, a witness to the greatest tragedy of the last century, wrote: “It is because I remember our common beginning that I move closer to my fellow human beings. It is because I refuse to forget that their future is as important as my own” (From the Kingdom of Memory, Reminiscences, New York, 1990, 10). On this Sunday, I ask God to rouse us from our disregard for those who are suffering, to shake us from an individualism that excludes others, to awaken hearts that are deaf to the needs of our neighbours. I ask every man and woman, all of us, to overcome the paralysis of fear, the indifference that kills, the cynical disregard that nonchalantly condemns to death those on the fringes! Let us combat at its root the dominant mindset that revolves around ourselves, our self-interest, personal and national, and becomes the measure and criterion of everything.

Five years have passed since I visited this place with my dear brothers Bartholomew and Ieronymos. After all this time, we see that little has changed with regard to the issue of migration. To be sure, many people have committed themselves to the work of welcoming and integrating. I want to thank the many volunteers and all those at every level – institutional, social, charitable and political – who have made great efforts to care for individuals and to address the issue of migration. I also acknowledge the efforts made to finance and build dignified reception facilities, and I cordially thank the local population for the great good they have accomplished and for the many sacrifices they have made. I also thank the local authorities for welcoming and looking after the people coming to us. Thank you for what you are doing! Yet, with deep regret, we must admit that this country, like others, continues to be hard-pressed, and that in Europe there are those who persist in treating the problem as a matter that does not concern them. This is tragic. I recall the final words spoken by the President: “That Europe might do the same”.

How many conditions exist that are unworthy of human beings! How many hotspots where migrants and refugees live in borderline conditions, without glimpsing solutions on the horizon! Yet respect for individuals and for human rights, especially on this continent, which is constantly promoting them worldwide, should always be upheld, and the dignity of each person ought to come before all else. It is distressing to hear of proposals that common funds be used to build walls and barbed wire as a solution. We are in the age of walls and barbed wire. To be sure, we can appreciate people’s fears and insecurities, the difficulties and dangers involved, and the general sense of fatigue and frustration, exacerbated by the economic and pandemic crises. Yet problems are not resolved and coexistence improved by building walls higher, but by joining forces to care for others according to the concrete possibilities of each and in respect for the law, always giving primacy to the inalienable value of the life of every human being. For as Elie Wiesel also said: “When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders become irrelevant” (Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech, 10 December 1986).

In various societies, security and solidarity, local and universal concerns, tradition and openness are being ideologically contraposed. Rather than bickering over ideas, it would be better to begin with reality: to pause and broaden our gaze to take in the problems of the majority of humanity, of all those peoples who are victims of humanitarian emergencies they did not create, yet have to endure as the latest chapter in a long history of exploitation. It is easy to stir up public opinion by instilling fear of others. Yet why do we fail to speak with equal vehemence about the exploitation of the poor, about seldom-mentioned but often well-financed wars, about economic agreements where the people have to pay, about covert deals to traffic in arms, favouring the proliferation of the arms trade? Why is this not spoken of? The remote causes should be attacked, not the poor people who pay the consequences and are even used for political propaganda. To remove the root causes, more is needed than merely patching up emergency situations. Coordinated actions are needed. Epochal changes have to be approached with a breadth of vision. There are no easy answers to complex problems; instead, we need to accompany processes from within, to overcome ghettoization and foster a slow and necessary integration, to accept the cultures and traditions of others in a fraternal and responsible way.

Above all else, if we want to start anew, we must look at the faces of children. May we find the courage to feel ashamed in their presence; in their innocence, they are our future. They challenge our consciences and ask us: “What kind of world do you want to give us?” Let us not hastily turn away from the shocking pictures of their tiny bodies lying lifeless on the beaches. The Mediterranean, which for millennia has brought different peoples and distant lands together, is now becoming a grim cemetery without tombstones. This great basin of water, the cradle of so many civilizations, now looks like a mirror of death. Let us not let our sea (mare nostrum) be transformed into a desolate sea of death (mare mortuum). Let us not allow this place of encounter to become a theatre of conflict. Let us not permit this “sea of memories” to be transformed into a “sea of forgetfulness”. Please brothers and sisters, let us stop this shipwreck of civilization!

On the banks of this sea, God became man. Here Jesus’ word resounded, proclaiming that God is the “Father and guide of all people” (Saint Gregory of Nazianus, Oration VII for his brother Caesarius, 24). God loves us as his children; he wants us to be brothers and sisters. Instead, he is offended when we despise the men and women created in his image, leaving them at the mercy of the waves, in the wash of indifference, justified at times even in the name of supposedly Christian values. On the contrary, faith demands compassion and mercy. Let us not forget that this is God’s style: closeness, compassion and tenderness. Faith impels us to hospitality, to that philoxenia (love of strangers) which permeated classical culture, and later found in Jesus its definitive expression, particularly in the parable of the Good Samaritan (cf. Lk 10:29-37) and the words of Chapter 25 of the Gospel of Matthew (cf. vv. 31-46). Far from being a religious ideology, this has to do with our concrete Christian roots. Jesus solemnly tells us that he is present in the stranger, in the refugee, in those who are naked and hungry. The Christian programme is to be where Jesus is, for the Christian programme, as Pope Benedict has written, “is a heart which sees” (Deus Caritas Est, 31). I do not want to conclude this address without thanking the Greek people for their welcoming spirit. Many times this becomes a problem because it is difficult for the people who are coming here to go elsewhere. Thank you, brothers, and sisters, for your generosity!

Let us now pray to Our Lady, that she may open our eyes to the sufferings of our brothers and sisters. Mary set out in haste to visit her cousin Elizabeth who was pregnant. How many pregnant mothers, journeying in haste, have found death, even while carrying life in their womb! May the Mother of God help us to have a maternal gaze that regards all human beings as children of God, sisters and brothers to be welcomed, protected, supported and integrated. And to be loved tenderly. May the all-holy Mother teach us to put the reality of men and women before ideas and ideologies, and to go forth in haste to encounter all those who suffer.

Let us all now pray to Our Lady.


Pope Francis       

29.12.21 General Audience,  Paul VI Audience Hall

Catechesis on Saint Joseph - 5. Saint Joseph, persecuted and courageous migrant  

Matthew 2: 13-23

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Today I would like to present Saint Joseph to you as a persecuted and courageous migrant. This is how the Evangelist Matthew describes him. This particular event in the life of Jesus, which also involves Joseph and Mary, is traditionally known as “the flight into Egypt” (cf. Mt 2:13-23). The family of Nazareth suffered such humiliation and experienced first-hand the precariousness, fear and pain of having to leave their homeland. Today so many of our brothers and sisters are still forced to experience the same injustice and suffering. The cause is almost always the arrogance and violence of the powerful. This was also the case for Jesus.

King Herod learns from the Magi of the birth of the “King of the Jews”, and the news shocks him. He feels insecure, he feels that his power is threatened. So, he gathers together all the leaders of Jerusalem to find out the place of His birth, and begs the Magi to inform him of the precise details, so that - he says falsely - he too can go and worship him. But when he realised that the Magi had set out in another direction, he conceived a wicked plan: to kill all the children in Bethlehem under the age of two years, which was the period of time, according to the calculations of the Magi, in which Jesus was born.

In the meantime, an angel orders Joseph: “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there till I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him” (Mt 2:13). Think today of the many people who feel this impulse within: “Let’s flee, let’s flee, because there is danger here”. Herod’s plan calls to mind that of Pharaoh to throw all the male children of the people of Israel into the Nile (cf. Ex 1:22). The flight into Egypt evokes the whole history of Israel beginning with Abraham, who also sojourned there (cf. Gen 12:10); to Joseph, son of Jacob, sold by his brothers (cf. Gen 37:36) before becoming “ruler of the land” (cf. Gen 41:37-57); and to Moses, who freed his people from the slavery of the Egyptians (cf. Ex 1:18).

The flight of the Holy Family into Egypt saves Jesus, but unfortunately it does not prevent Herod from carrying out his massacre. We are thus faced with two opposing personalities: on the one hand, Herod with his ferocity, and on the other hand, Joseph with his care and courage. Herod wants to defend his power, his own skin, with ruthless cruelty, as attested to by the execution of one of his wives, some of his children and hundreds of opponents. He was a cruel man: to solve problems, he had just one answer: to kill. He is the symbol of many tyrants of yesteryear and of today. And for them, for these tyrants, people do not count; power is what counts, and if they need space for power, they do away with people. And this happens today: we do not need to look at ancient history, it happens today. He is the man who becomes a “wolf” for other men. History is full of figures who, living at the mercy of their fears, try to conquer them by exercising power despotically and carrying out inhuman acts of violence. But we must not think that we live according to Herod's outlook only if we become tyrants, no; in fact, it is an attitude to which we can all fall prey, every time we try to dispel our fears with arrogance, even if only verbal, or made up of small abuses intended to mortify those close to us. We too have in our heart the possibility of becoming little Herods.

Joseph is the opposite of Herod: first of all, he is “a just man” (Mt 1:19), and Herod is a dictator. Furthermore, he proves he is courageous in following the Angel’s command. One can imagine the vicissitudes he had to face during the long and dangerous journey and the difficulties involved in staying in a foreign country, with another language: many difficulties. His courage emerges also at the moment of his return, when, reassured by the Angel, he overcomes his understandable fears and settles with Mary and Jesus in Nazareth (cf. Mt 2:19-23). Herod and Joseph are two opposing characters, reflecting the two ever-present faces of humanity. It is a common misconception to consider courage as the exclusive virtue of the hero. In reality, the daily life of every person requires courage. Our way of living – yours, mine, everyone’s: one cannot live without courage, the courage to face each days’ difficulties. In all times and cultures, we find courageous men and women who, in order to be consistent with their beliefs, have overcome all kinds of difficulties, and have endured injustice, condemnation and even death. Courage is synonymous with fortitude, which together with justice, prudence and temperance is part of the group of human virtues known as “cardinal virtues”.

The lesson Joseph leaves us with today is this: life always holds adversities in store for us, this is true, in the face of which we may also feel threatened and afraid. But it is not by bringing out the worst in ourselves, as Herod does, that we can overcome certain moments, but rather by acting like Joseph, who reacts to fear with the courage to trust in God’s Providence. Today I think we need a prayer for all migrants; migrants and all the persecuted, and all those who are victims of adverse circumstances: be they political, historical or personal circumstances. But, let us think of the many people who are victims of wars, who want to flee from their homeland but cannot; let us think of the migrants who set out on that road to be free, so many of whom end up on the street or in the sea; let us think of Jesus in the arms of Joseph and Mary, fleeing, and let us see in him each one of the migrants of today. Migration today is a reality to which we cannot close our eyes. It is a social scandal of humanity.

Saint Joseph,

you who have experienced the suffering of those who must flee

you who were forced to flee

to save the lives of those dearest to you,

protect all those who flee because of war,

hatred, hunger.

Support them in their difficulties,

Strengthen them in hope, and let them find welcome and solidarity.

Guide their steps and open the hearts of those who can help them. Amen.


Pope Francis       

at the “John XXIII Peace Lab” Centre for Migrants in Hal Far, Malta

Apostolic Journey to Malta 2- 3 April 2022

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I greet all of you with great affection, and I am very happy to end my visit to Malta by spending some time here with you. I thank Father Dionisio for his welcome. I am also very grateful to Daniel and to Siriman for their testimonies: you opened your hearts and shared your lives, and at the same time gave a voice to so many of our brothers and sisters who were constrained to leave their homelands in search of a secure refuge.

Let me repeat what I said some months ago in Lesvos: “I am here… to assure you of my closeness… I am here to see your faces and look into your eyes” (Address in Mytilene, 5 December 2021). Since the day I visited Lampedusa, I have not forgotten you. You are always in my heart and in my prayers.

This meeting with you, dear migrants, makes us think of the significance of the logo chosen for my Journey to Malta. That logo is taken from the Acts of the Apostles, which relates how the people of Malta welcomed the Apostle Paul and his companions, shipwrecked nearby. We are told that they were treated with “unusual kindness” (Acts 28:2). Not merely with kindness, but with rare humanity, a special care and concern that Saint Luke wished to immortalize in the Book of Acts. It is my hope that that is how Malta will always treat those who land on its shores, offering them a genuinely “safe harbour”.

Shipwreck is something that thousands of men, women and children have experienced in the Mediterranean in recent years. Sadly, for many of them, it ended in tragedy. Just yesterday we received news of a rescue off the coast of Libya, of only four migrants from a boat that was carrying about ninety people. Let us pray for these our brothers and sisters who died in the Mediterranean Sea. Let us also pray that we may be saved from another kind of shipwreck taking place: the shipwreck of civilization, which threatens not only migrants but us all. How can we save ourselves from this shipwreck which risks sinking the ship of our civilization? By conducting ourselves with kindness and humanity. By regarding people not merely as statistics, but, as Siriman told us, for what they really are: people, men and women, brothers and sisters, each with his or her own life story. By imagining that those same people we see on crowded boats or adrift in the sea, on our televisions or in the newspapers, could be any one of us, or our sons or daughters... Perhaps at this very moment, while we are here, there are boats heading northwards across the sea… Let us pray for these brothers and sisters of ours who risk their lives at sea in search of hope. You too experienced this ordeal and you arrived here.

Your experiences make us think too of the experiences of all those thousands and thousands of people who in these very days have been forced to flee Ukraine because of the unjust and savage war. But also the experiences of so many others in Asia, Africa and the Americas; I also think of Rohingya…. All of them are in my thoughts and prayers at this time.

Some time ago, I received from your Centre another testimony: the story of a young man who told me about the sad moment when he had to take leave of his mother and his family of origin. His story moved me and made me think. But you, Daniel, and you, Siriman, each had that same experience of having to leave by being separated from your own roots, of being uprooted. And that experience of being uprooted leaves its mark. Not just the pain and emotion of that moment, but a deep wound affecting your journey of growth as a young man or woman. It takes time to heal that wound; it takes time and most of all it takes experiences of human kindness: meeting persons who accept you and are able to listen, understand and accompany you. But also the experience of living alongside other traveling companions, sharing things with them and bearing your burdens together… This helps heal the wounds.

I think of these reception centres, and how important it is for them to be places marked by human kindness! We know how difficult that can be, since there are always things that create tensions and difficulties. Yet, on every continent, there are individuals and communities who take up the challenge, realizing that migrations are a sign of the times, where civility itself is in play. For us Christians too, in play is our fidelity to the Gospel of Jesus, who said: “I was a stranger and you welcomed me” (Mt 25:35). None of this can be accomplished in a day! It takes time, immense patience, and above all a love made up of closeness, tenderness and compassion, like God’s love for us. I think we should say a big word of thanks to all those who took up this challenge here in Malta and established this Centre. Let us do that with a round of applause, all of us together!

Allow me, brothers and sisters, to express a dream of my own: that you, who are migrants, after having received a welcome rich in human kindness and fraternity, will become in turn witnesses and agents of welcome and fraternity. Here, and wherever God wants, wherever his providence will lead you. That is the dream I want to share with you and which I place in God’s hands. For what is impossible for us is not impossible for him. I believe it is most important that in today’s world migrants become witnesses of those human values essential for a dignified and fraternal life. They are values that you hold in your hearts, values that are part of your roots. Once the pain of being uprooting has subsided, you can bring forth this interior richness, this precious patrimony of humanity, and share it with the communities that will welcome you and the environments of which you will be a part. This is the way! The way of fraternity and social friendship. Here is the future of the human family in a globalized world. I am happy to be able to share this dream with you today, just as you, in your testimonies, have shared your dreams with me!

Here, I think, is also the answer to a question at the heart of your own testimony, Siriman. You reminded us that those forced to leave their country leave with a dream in their hearts: the dream of freedom and democracy. This dream collides with a harsh reality, often dangerous, sometimes terrible and inhuman. You gave voice to the stifled plea of those millions of migrants whose fundamental rights are violated, sadly at times with the complicity of the competent authorities. That is the way it is, and I want to say it the way it is: Sadly, at times with the complicity of the competent authorities. And you drew our attention to the most important thing: the dignity of the person. I would reaffirm this in your own words: you are not statistics but flesh and blood people with faces and dreams, dreams that are sometimes dashed.

From there, from the dignity of persons, we can and must start anew. Let us not be deceived by all those who tell us that “nothing can be done”; “these problems are too big for us”; “let others fend for themselves while I go about my own business”. No. Let us never fall into this trap. Let us respond to the challenge of migrants and refugees with kindness and humanity. Let us light fires of fraternity around which people can warm themselves, rise again and rediscover hope. Let us strengthen the fabric of social friendship and the culture of encounter, starting from places such as this. They may not be perfect, but they are, truly, “laboratories of peace”.

Since this Centre bears the name of Saint John XXIII, I would like to recall the hope that Pope John expressed at the end of his famous encyclical on peace: “May [the Lord] banish from the souls of men and women whatever might endanger peace. May he transform all of us into witnesses of truth, justice and brotherly love. May he illumine with his light the minds of rulers, so that, in addition to caring for the material welfare of their peoples, they may also guarantee them the fairest gift of peace. Finally, may Christ inflame the desires of all men and women to break through the barriers which divide them, to strengthen the bonds of mutual love, to learn to understand one another, and to pardon those who have done them wrong. Through his power and inspiration may all peoples see one another as brothers and sisters, and may the peace for which they long always flourish and reign among them” (Pacem in Terris, 171).

Dear brothers and sisters, soon I will join some of you in lighting a candle before the image of Our Lady. It is a very simple yet meaningful gesture. In the Christian tradition, that little flame is a symbol of our faith in God. It is also a symbol of hope, a hope that Mary, our Mother, keeps alive even at most difficult moments. It is the hope that I have seen in your eyes today: the hope that has made your journey meaningful and the hope that keeps you pressing forward. May Our Lady help you never to lose this hope! To her, I entrust each of you and your families. I will carry you with me in my heart and in my prayers. And I ask you, please, not to forget to pray for me. Thank you!

Lord God, Creator of the universe,

source of all freedom and peace,

love and fraternity,

you created us in your own image,

breathed in us the breath of life

and made us sharers in your own life of communion.

Even when we broke your covenant

you did not abandon us to the power of death,

but continued, in your infinite mercy,

to call us back to you,

to live as your sons and daughters.

Pour out upon us your Holy Spirit

and grant us a new heart,

sensitive to the pleas, often silent,

of our brothers and sisters who have lost

the warmth of their homes and homeland.

Grant that we may give them hope

by our welcome and our show of humanity.

Make us instruments of peace

and practical, fraternal love.

Free us from fear and prejudice;

enable us to share in their sufferings

and to combat injustice together,

for the growth of a world in which each person

is respected in his or her inviolable dignity,

the dignity that you, O Father, have granted us

and your Son has consecrated forever.


03.04.22 mg

Pope Francis          

09.05.22 Message for the 108th World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2022 on 25.09.22

Saint John Lateran, Rome

Building the Future with Migrants and Refugees

“Here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.” (Heb 13:14)

Dear brothers and sisters!

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. His Kingdom has not yet been brought to fulfilment, though it is already present in those who have accepted the salvation he offers us. “God’s Kingdom is in us. Even though it is still eschatological, in the future of the world and of humanity, at the same time it is found in us.” [1]

The city yet to come is a “city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Heb 11:10). His plan calls for an intense work of construction, in which all of us must be personally involved. It involves a meticulous effort aimed at personal conversion and the transformation of reality, so that it can correspond ever more fully to the divine plan. 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.

“We wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home” (2 Pet 3:13). Righteousness is one of the building blocks of God’s Kingdom. In our daily efforts to do the Lord’s will, justice needs to be built up with patience, sacrifice, and determination, so that all those who hunger and thirst for it may be satisfied (cf. Mt 5:6). The righteousness of the Kingdom must be understood as the fulfilment of God’s harmonious plan, whereby in Christ, who died and rose from the dead, all creation returns to its original goodness, and humanity becomes once more “very good” (cf. Gen 1:1-31). But for this wondrous harmony to reign, we must accept Christ’s salvation, his Gospel of love, so that the many forms of inequality and discrimination in the present world may be eliminated.

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. Indeed, the Lord says, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, sick and you took care of me, in prison and you visited me” (Mt 25:34-36).

Building the future with migrants and refugees also means recognizing and valuing how much each of them can contribute to the process of construction. I like to see this approach to migration reflected in a prophetic vision of Isaiah, which 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).

In Isaiah’s prophecy, the arrival of foreigners is presented as a source of enrichment: “The abundance of the sea shall be brought to you, and the wealth of the nations shall come to you” (Is 60:5). Indeed, history teaches us that the contribution of migrants and refugees has been fundamental to the social and economic growth of our societies. This continues to be true in our own day. Their work, their youth, their enthusiasm and their willingness to sacrifice enrich the communities that receive them. Yet this contribution could be all the greater were it optimized and supported by carefully developed programs and initiatives. Enormous potential exists, ready to be harnessed, if only it is given a chance.

In Isaiah’s prophecy, the inhabitants of the new Jerusalem always keep the gates of the city wide open, so that foreigners may come in, bringing their gifts: “Your gates shall always be open; day and night they shall not be shut, so that nations shall bring you their wealth” (Is 60:11). The presence of migrants and refugees represents a great challenge, but at the same time an immense opportunity for the cultural and spiritual growth of everyone. Thanks to them, we have the chance to know better our world and its beautiful diversity. 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.

In the new Jerusalem of all peoples, the temple of the Lord is made more beautiful by the offerings that come from foreign lands: “All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered to you, the rams of Nebaioth shall minister to you, they shall be acceptable on my altar, and I will glorify my glorious house” (Is 60:7). As we have seen, 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.

Dear brothers and sisters, and, in a special way, young people! 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.


Lord, make us bearers of hope,

so that where there is darkness,

your light may shine,

and where there is discouragement,

confidence in the future may be reborn.

Lord, make us instruments of your justice,

so that where there is exclusion, fraternity may flourish,

and where there is greed, a spirit of sharing may grow.

Lord, make us builders of your Kingdom,

together with migrants and refugees

and with all who dwell on the peripheries.

Lord, let us learn how beautiful it is

to live together as brothers and sisters. Amen.

Rome, Saint John Lateran, 9 May 2022


[1] Saint John Paul II, Address during the Visit to the Roman Parish of Saints Francis of Assisi and Catherine of Siena, Patrons of Italy, 26 November 1989.

09.05.22  25.09.22

Pope Francis          

19.10.23 Moment of Prayer for Migrants and Refugees, at the Sculpture in Saint Peter’s Square    

XVI Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops  

Luke 10: 25-37

We can never be grateful enough to Saint Luke for passing on to us this parable of the Lord (cf. Lk 10:25-37). This parable is also at the heart of the Encyclical Fratelli Tutti because it is a key, I would say the key, to moving from the closure of a world to an open world, from a world at war to the peace of another world. Tonight we listened to this parable thinking of the migrants whom we see represented in this large sculpture: men and women of all ages and backgrounds, and in their midst are angels guiding them.

The road leading from Jerusalem to Jericho was not a safe route, just as today the many migration routes that traverse deserts, forests, rivers and seas are not safe. How many of our brothers and sisters find themselves today in the same condition as the traveller in the parable? Many! How many are robbed, stripped and beaten along the way? They leave their homes deceived by unscrupulous traffickers. They are then sold like commodities. They are kidnapped, imprisoned, exploited and enslaved. They are humiliated, tortured, raped. And so many of them die without ever reaching their destination. The migration routes of our time are filled with men and women who are wounded and left half-dead, our brothers and sisters whose pain cries out before God.  Often, they are people fleeing war and terrorism, as we are witnessing, sadly, in these days.

Today, as then, there are still those who see this, and then cross to the other side of the road; surely they come up with some reason to justify this, but in fact it is out of selfishness, indifference and fear. This is true. Instead, what does the Gospel tell us about that Samaritan? It tells us that he saw the wounded man and had compassion on him (v. 33). Here is the key. Compassion is the imprint of God in our hearts. God’s style is closeness, compassion and tenderness: this is God’s style. And compassion is the imprint of God in our hearts. Here is the key. Here is the turning point. From that moment forward, the wounded man begins to recover, thanks to that foreigner who treated him as a brother. The outcome was not simply a good deed of assistance; the outcome was fraternity.

Like the Good Samaritan, we are called to be neighbours to all the wayfarers of our time, to save their lives, to heal their wounds and to soothe their pain. For many, tragically, it is too late, and we are left only to weep over their graves, if they even have a grave, or the Mediterranean ends up being their grave. Yet the Lord knows the face of each of them, and he does not forget it.

The Good Samaritan does not just help the poor traveler on the wayside. He loads him on his own beast, takes him to an inn, and cares for him. Here we can find reflected the meaning of the four verbs that sum up our service to migrants: welcome, protect, promote and integrate. Migrants should be welcomed, protected, promoted and integrated. This involves a long-term responsibility; in fact, the Good Samaritan is also concerned about returning. This is why it is important for us to be prepared adequately for the challenges of today’s migrations, understanding not only critical issues, but also the opportunities they offer, with a view to the growth of more inclusive, more beautiful and more peaceful societies.

Allow me to point out the urgent need for something else, which is not addressed in the parable. All of us must strive to make the road safer, so that today’s travellers do not fall victim to bandits. We need to multiply our efforts to combat the criminal networks that exploit the hopes and dreams of migrants. It is likewise necessary to indicate safer routes. This means that efforts must be made to expand regular migration channels. In the current world situation, it is clearly necessary to bring demographic and economic policies into dialogue with migration policies for the sake of all those involved, without ever forgetting to put the most vulnerable at the centre. It is also necessary to promote a common and co-responsible approach to the governance of migration flows, which appear set to increase in the coming years.

Welcoming, protecting, promoting and integrating: this is the work we must carry out.

Let us ask the Lord for the grace to draw close to all migrants and refugees who knock at our door, because today “anyone who is neither a robber nor a passer-by is either injured himself or bearing an injured person on his shoulders.” (Fratelli Tutti, 70).

And now, we will have a brief moment of silence, as we remember all those who did not make it, who lost their lives along the different migration routes, and those who have been exploited or enslaved.