Pope Celebrates Mass for Migrants, Refugees

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
15 Jan 2018

Pope Francis celebrated the World Day of Migrants and Refugees yesterday with a Mass in St Peter's Basilica reminding us that in order to encounter others we must first overcome our fears.

With colourful flags flying and in multicultural costumes, representatives from more than 70 countries were present and around 460 priests from all over the world concelebrated with the Holy Father.

Pope Francis said he wanted to celebrate the World Day of Migrants and Refugees with a Mass of invitation and welcome.

He based his reflections during the homily on the episode in St John's Gospel where the disciples asked Jesus where He lives, and He responds: "Come and see".

This reply is addressed to us today, said the Pope: "It is an invitation to overcome our fears so as to encounter the other, to welcome, to know, and to acknowledge him or her".

But authentic encounter doesn't end with welcome. Pope Francis reminded us of the three actions he spelled out in his Message for this Day: "to protect, promote and integrate".

While new arrivals need to "know and respect the laws, culture and traditions of the countries that take them in", local communities need to understand "the hopes and potential of the newly arrived, as well as their fears and vulnerabilities".

It is not easy to enter into another culture, said the Pope, to understand the thoughts and experiences of people who are so different from us.

"Local communities are sometimes afraid the newly arrived will disturb the established order … and the newly arrived are afraid of confrontation, judgement, discrimination and failure".

"Having doubts and fears is not a sin", said the Pope. "The sin is to allow these fears to determine our responses, to limit our choices, to compromise respect and generosity, to feed hostility and rejection".

The sin, he continued, "is to refuse to encounter the other". Because every encounter is "a privileged opportunity to encounter the Lord".

Pope Francis concluded by expressing the hope that "we may all learn to love the other, the stranger, as ourselves".