Pope to rich: Stop trampling on the poor, including migrants and refugees


Pope to rich: Stop trampling on the poor, including migrants and refugees

Pope Francis celebrates Mass on the Italian island of Lampedusa in this July 8, 2013, file photo. (Credit: CNS photo/Paul Haring.)

Pope Francis on Friday celebrated a special Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica to mark the fifth anniversary of his 2013 outing to the island of Lampedusa.

Pope Francis’s words came at a private Mass he led in Rome’s St. Peter’s Basilica, not at the main altar but the one known as the Altar of the Seat of Peter, located behind the main altar, allowing for smaller ceremonies. Some 200 people, including migrants and those who work with them, were in attendance.
A just immigration policy, the pontiff said, “is one at the service of the person,” and is capable of providing solutions that can ensure “security, respect for the rights and dignity of all; a policy concerned for the good of one’s own country, while taking into account that of others in an ever more interconnected world.”
Francis also said that even though God promises freedom to all the oppressed, “he needs us to fulfil his promise.”
“He needs our eyes to see the needs of our brothers and sisters. He needs our hands to offer them help. He needs our voice to protest the injustices committed thanks to the silence, often complicit, of so many,” he said, before listing several “silences,” including the silence of common sense and that silence which justifies injustice because “it’s always been done this way.”
Commenting on a passage from the Gospel of Matthew read during the Mass, Francis said that in it Jesus rebukes the Pharisees, pointing his finger at the “sterile hypocrisy of those who do not want to ‘dirty the hands,’ like the priest or the Levite in the parable of the Good Samaritan.”
“This is a temptation powerfully present in our own day,” he added. “It takes the form of closing our hearts to those who have the right, just as we do, to security and dignified living conditions. It builds walls, real or virtual, rather than bridges.”
The Mass was celebrated to mark the fifth anniversary of the pope’s first outing outside of Rome, which took place July 8, 2013. On that occasion, he visited the southern Italian city of Lampedusa, considered one of the entrance doors for the thousands of migrants and refugees fleeing Africa and the Middle East for Europe.
Explaining his decision to make Lampedusa the destination of his pastoral visit, the pontiff said back in 2013 that the reports of the deaths of desperate people trying to reach a better life had been like “a thorn in the heart.”

The Argentine pontiff, a son of Italian immigrants himself, has made the care for those forcibly displaced one of the social cornerstones of his pontificate, opening the doors of Vatican property to several migrant families, including the three Syrian families he brought with him from the Greek island of Lesbos to Italy, as part of a humanitarian corridors initiative.


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