VATICAN CITY, OCT. 9, 2008 (Zenit.org).- The example of St. Paul, a “migrant by vocation,” is one Benedict XVI hopes the Church will follow to build solidarity and promote peaceful coexistence among all races, cultures and creeds.
The Pope said this in the message released for the 95th World Day of Migrants and Refugees, to be held Jan. 18. The message, titled “St. Paul Migrant, ‘Apostle of the Peoples,'” was published Wednesday.
The Holy Father said the theme coincides with the Jubilee Year of St. Paul, which concludes June 29.
He said the “preaching and mediation between the different cultures and the Gospel which Paul, ‘a migrant by vocation,’ carried out, are also an important reference point for those who find themselves involved in the migratory movement today.”
The Pontiff explained: “Born into a family of Jewish immigrants in Tarsus, Cilicia, Saul was educated in the Hebrew and Hellenistic cultures and languages, making the most of the Roman cultural context.
“After his encounter with Christ on the road to Damascus, although he did not deny his own ‘traditions’ and felt both esteem and gratitude to Judaism and the Law, he devoted himself without hesitation or second thoughts to his new mission, with courage and enthusiasm and docile to the Lord’s command: ‘I will send you far away to the Gentiles.'”
“His life changed radically,” said Benedict XVI. “Jesus became for him his ‘raison d’être’ and the motive that inspired his apostolic dedication to the service of the Gospel. He changed from being a persecutor of Christians to being an Apostle of Christ.
“Guided by the Holy Spirit, he spared no effort to see that the Gospel […] was proclaimed to all, making no distinction of nationality or culture.”
“This is the mission of the Church and of every baptized person in our time too, even in the era of globalization; a mission that with attentive pastoral solicitude is also directed to the variegated universe of migrants — students far from home, immigrants, refugees, displaced people, evacuees — including for example, the victims of modern forms of slavery, and of human trafficking,” the Pope said.
The Pontiff affirmed that the “message of salvation must be presented with the same approach as that of the Apostle to the Gentiles, taking into account the different social and cultural situations and special difficulties of each one as a consequence of his or her condition as a migrant or itinerant person.”
“May his example,” the Holy Father added, “also be an incentive for us to show solidarity to these brothers and sisters of ours and to promote, in every part of the world and by every means, peaceful coexistence among different races, cultures and religions.”
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Full text of Benedict XVI’s message: www.zenit.org/article-23866?l=english