VATICAN CITY, NOVEMBER 17, 2002 (Zenit.org).-Here is a translation of John Paul II’s address at midday on Sunday, before praying the “Angelus” with pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican.
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Dear Brothers and Sisters!
1. Today the Day of Migrations is being celebrated in Italy, an annual event that invites the ecclesial and civil community to reflect on this important and complex social phenomenon.
The Italian bishops have chosen, as the theme of this day, an expression of the Apostle Paul: “Welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you” (Romans 15, 7). In welcoming every man in Christ, God made himself an “emigrant” in the paths of time to take the Gospel of love and peace to all. In contemplating this mystery, how can one not open oneself to welcome and recognize that every human being is a son of the one heavenly Father and, therefore, is our brother?
2. We live at a time of profound changes that affect persons, ethnic groups, and peoples. Grave inequalities are noted also today, especially between the north and south of the world. This makes the earth, increasingly becoming a “global village,” be unfortunately for some a place of poverty and privations, while there is great concentration of wealth in the hands of others. In this context, the “other” risks being considered frequently as a competitor, especially if he is “different,” due to language, nationality, and culture.
Because of this, it is important that the spirit of acceptance be diffused, translated in social conduct of care, especially for the needy. Everyone is called to contribute to the improvement of the world, beginning in one’s own ambit of life and action. I very much hope that families, associations, ecclesial and civil communities will become more and more schools of hospitality, of civil coexistence, of fruitful dialogue. As for immigrants, they must know how to respect the laws of the State that has welcomed them and thus contribute to a better integration in the new social context.
3. Mary, the Virgin of welcome, is the figure and model of the Church, which must be a welcoming home for all men and peoples. To assume our humanity, God willed to knock on the door of the heart of Our Lady, receiving a “yes” full of faith and love. May she help us to be open to the needs of brothers, in particular of all those who are in great difficulties.
I wish to express my profound sharing in the sorrow of the relatives of those who, last Friday, were victims of a cowardly attack at Hebron in the Holy Land, when people had just finished praying, just a few steps from the tomb of the Patriarch Abraham, whom we recognize as our common father in faith.
While I pray for the eternal repose of all those who died, I ask the Lord to infuse in all the necessary courage to return to the path of justice and peace.
[Translation by ZENIT]