Pope Francis presided over a moment of prayer for migrants and refugees in St. Peter's Square Photo: Vatican Media

Pope Highlights Four Verbs that Summarize Action with Migrants: Welcome, Protect, Promote and Integrate

Pope’s address during the prayer for migrants and refugees held in the Vatican’s Saint Peter’s Square

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(ZENIT News / Vatican City, 19.10.2023).- Around 7:15 pm today, Pope Francis presided over a moment of prayer for migrants and refugees in the Vatican’s Saint Peter’s Square. The prayer focused on the sculpture of migrants in the Square. Some 500 people attended, the majority participants in the works of the 13thGeneral Congregation of the 16thOrdinary General Assembly  of the Synod of Bishops.

Here is ZENIT’s English translation of the Holy Father’s address.

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We will never be sufficiently grateful to Saint Luke for having transmitted to us this parable [the Good Samaritan] of the Lord (cf. Luke 10:25-37). It’s also at the heart of the Encyclical Fratelli Tutti, because it is a key, I would say the key to pass from a closed to an open world, from a world at war to one of peace. We have heard it tonight thinking of the migrants, whom we see represented in this great sculpture: men and women of all ages and origins and, in their midst, the Angels guiding them.

 The road from Jerusalem to Jericho was not a safe road, as the numerous migratory routes are today, which go through deserts, forests, rivers and seas. How many brothers and sisters are in the same situation today as the wayfarer in the parable? Very many. How many are robbed, stripped and beaten along the way? They depart deceived by unscrupulous traffickers. Then they are sold as currency. They are abducted, imprisoned, exploited and enslaved. They are humiliated, tortured and violated. And many, many die without reaching their destiny. The migratory routes of our time are peopled by wounded men and women that are half dead, of brothers and sisters whose pain cries out to God. They are often people fleeing from war and terrorism as, unfortunately, we see today.

Today also, as then, there are those that pass by, no doubt giving themselves a good excuse, in reality out of egoism, indifference and fear. This is the truth. Instead, what does the Gospel say of that Samaritan? It says he saw the wounded man and had compassion on him (v. 33). This is the key. Compassion is God’s imprint in our heart. God’s style is closeness, compassion and tenderness. And compassion is the imprint of God in our heart. This is the key. Here is the point of inflexion, because from that moment the life of that wounded man began to recover, thanks to that “foreigner” who acted like a brother. Thus 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 has become their grave. Yet the Lord knows the face of each of them, and He does not forget it.”

The Good Samaritan does not limit himself to help the poor wayfarer. He lifts him on his mount, takes him to an Inn and takes care of him. Here we can find the meaning of the four verbs that summarize our action with migrants: welcome, protect, promote and integrate. We must welcome, protect, promote and integrate migrants. It is a long-term responsibility, as the Good Samaritan returned to make sure he was fully recovered, having made it possible for him.  Hence it is important to be adequately prepared for the challenges of the current migrations, understanding their critical aspects but also the opportunities they offer, in view to the growth of more inclusive, more beautiful and more peaceful societies.

Permit me to highlight the urgency of another action, which isn’t mentioned in the parable. We must allstrive  to make the road safer, so that today’s travellers do not fall victim of bandits. More efforts are needed to counter the criminal networks that exploit the hopes and dreams of migrants. But it is also necessary to point out routes that are safer. So efforts must be made to expand regular migration channels. In the present global scenario, it is clear that demographic and economic policies must be brought into dialogue with migration policies, without forgetting to put the most vulnerable at the center. It is also necessary to find common and responsible approaches to managing migration flows that are only likely to increase in the coming years.

Welcome, protect, promote and integrate: this is the work we must do.

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 engage in a brief moment of silence, remembering all those who didn’t achieve it, who lost their life along the different migratory routes, and those that were used and enslaved.

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