Respect migrants' diversity, appeals Pope

2015 sees the 101st World Day of Migrants and Refugees, which will be marked in the UK on Sunday, 18 January. Every year, the Pope issues a message on the theme of refugees and migrants which concludes with a blessing for them.  The message for this year is “The Church without frontiers, Mother to all”. 

In his message for the Day, Pope Francis says that the Church has a vital role in the breaking down of barriers and that it is not enough simply to tolerate people of different cultures. “Migration movements … call us to deepen and strengthen the values needed to guarantee peaceful coexistence between persons and cultures,” he writes. “Achieving mere tolerance that respects diversity and ways of sharing between different backgrounds and cultures is not sufficient. This is precisely where the Church contributes to overcoming frontiers and encouraging the moving away from attitudes of defensiveness and fear, indifference and marginalisation …"

Encounter

In his message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, Pope Francis stresses the need to encounter people of different cultures in order that “a better, more just and fraternal world” might be built.

“There is something of a resolution or promise in the message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees which focuses on the centrality of the dignity of the person,” says Louise Zanré of the Jesuit Refugee Service in the UK. She singles out one particular passage from Pope Francis’ message which she feels is particularly pertinent:

The Church without frontiers, Mother to all spreads throughout the world a culture of acceptance and solidarity, in which no one is seen as useless, out of place or disposable.  When living out this motherhood effectively, the Christian community nourishes, guides and indicates the way, accompanying all with patience, and drawing close to them through prayer and works of mercy.

“All it needs is for each one of us to try to live up to that acceptance and solidarity, that accompaniment through prayer and works of mercy,” says Louise.  “So please spare a thought and a prayer for some of our refugee friends, perhaps particularly when you see or hear an anti-refugee or anti-migrant report in the news.”

Photo: Pope Francis greets refugees and staff during a visit last year to Jesuit Refugee Service Italy's Centro Astalli soup kitchen. (Alessia Giuliani/Jesuit Refugee Service)