Benedict XVI on World Refugee Day

The Church Is «a Homeland Where No One Is a Stranger»

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 19, 2005 ( Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Angelus with the crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters:

Tomorrow, June 20, World Refugee Day will be observed, promoted by the United Nations to keep alive attention on the problems of those who must forcibly abandon their homeland. The theme this year, «The Courage to Be a Refugee,» underlines the strength of spirit needed by those who must leave everything, at times even their families, to escape from grave difficulties and dangers. The Christian community feels close to those who live this painful condition; it exerts itself to support them and manifests in different ways its interest and love, which is translated into concrete gestures of solidarity so that whoever finds himself far from his country, feels the Church as a homeland where no one is a stranger.

Christians’ loving attention to those in difficulty and their commitment in favor of a more solidaristic society are continually nourished by active and conscious participation in the Eucharist. Whoever is nourished with the faith of Christ at the Eucharistic table assimilates his same style of life, which is the style of attentive service, especially to weaker and less favored people (see apostolic letter «Mane Nobiscum Domine,» No. 28). May the Year of the Eucharist, which we are living, help diocesan and parish communities to revive this capacity to go out to meet the numerous poverties of our world.

Today we wish to entrust especially the men, women and children who live the condition of refugees to the maternal protection of Mary Most Holy, who, together with her husband St. Joseph and the Child Jesus, experienced the suffering of exile. At that time, the Holy Family had to flee to Egypt, due to the absurd persecution of Herod (Matthew 2:13-23). Let us pray to the Virgin Most Holy that these brothers and sisters of ours may find acceptance and understanding on their journey.

[Translation by ZENIT]

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