Setting the scene for the message for the 107th World Day of Migrants and Refugees, Pope Francis explained that in the Encyclical Fratelli tutti, he expressed a concern and a hope that once this health crisis passes, “we will think no longer in terms of ‘them’ and ‘those’, but only ‘us’.”
For this reason, said the Pope, “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.”
Annually, the World Day for Migrants and Refugees is the last Sunday of September. It is a day set aside to express concern and show solidarity for different vulnerable people on the move; to pray for them as they face many challenges and increase awareness about the opportunities that migration offers. This year, it will be commemorated on 26 September.
From the message:
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.Address to the National Directors of Pastoral Care for Migrants , 22 September 2017).
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.
…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.
He concludes with this prayer:
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.