Thursday, December 19, 2019

Greetings for refugees from Lesbos

At the conclusion of his audiences this morning, the Holy Father, Pope Francis met with refugees who have arrived recently from Lesbos through humanitarian corridors and had a cross placed in the corridor leading to the Apostolic Palace from the Belvedere Courtyard in memory of migrants and refugees.

Greetings of the Holy Father, Pope Francis
offered to migrants and refugees

This is the second life jacket I have received as a gift. The first one was given to me a few years ago by a group of rescuers. It belonged to a little girl who drowned in the Mediterranean. I then donated it to the two Undersecretaries of the Section for Migrants and Refugees of the Dicastery for the Integral Human Development Services. I told them: Here is your mission!  With this I wanted to signify the indispensable commitment of the Church to save the lives of migrants and to then be able to welcome, protect, promote and integrate them.

This second jacket, delivered by another group of rescuers only a few days ago, belonged to a migrant who died at sea last July. No one knows who he was or where he came from. It is only known that his jacket was recovered adrift in the Central Mediterranean, on 3 July 2019, at certain geographical coordinates. We are facing another death caused by injustice. Yes, because it is injustice that forces many migrants to leave their lands. It is the injustice that forces them to cross deserts and suffer abuse and torture in detention camps. It is the injustice that rejects them and makes them die at sea.

This jacket protects a cross in coloured resin, which seeks to express the spiritual experience that I was able to grasp from the words of the rescuers. In Jesus Christ the cross is a source of salvation, foolishness for those who are lost - says Saint Paul - but for those who are saved, or for us, it is the power of God (1 Cor 1:18). In the Christian tradition the cross is a symbol of suffering and sacrifice and, at the same time, a symbol of redemption and salvation.

This cross is transparent: it presents itself as a challenge to look more carefully and to always seek the truth. The cross is luminescent: it is meant to encourage our faith in the Resurrection, the triumph of Christ over death. Even the unknown migrant, who died with hope in a new life, participates in this victory. Rescuers told me how they are learning humanity from the people they manage to save. They revealed to me how in every mission they rediscover the beauty of being one big human family, united in universal fraternity.

I have decided to expose this life jacket, crucified on this cross here, in order to remind us that we must keep our eyes open, keep our hearts open, to remind everyone of the absolute commitment to save every human life, a moral duty that unites believers and non-believers.

How can we not hear the desperate cry of many brothers and sisters who prefer to deal with a stormy sea rather than die slowly in Libyan detention camps, ignoble places of torture and slavery? How can we remain indifferent to the abuse and violence of which they are innocent victims, leaving them at the mercy of unscrupulous traffickers? How can we pass by such situations, like the priest and the Levite in the parable of the Good Samaritan (cf Lk 10.31 to 32), making ourselves responsible for their deaths? Our laziness is a sin!

I thank the Lord for all those who have decided not to remain indifferent and do their utmost to help victims, without asking too many questions about how or why the poor, at times even half-dead, ended up on this journey. It is not by blocking their boats that the problem is solved. Serious efforts must be made to empty the detention camps in Libya, evaluating and implementing all possible solutions. We must denounce and prosecute traffickers who exploit and mistreat migrants, without fear of revealing connivance and complicity with the institutions. Economic interests must be set aside so that at the center there is the person, every person, whose life and dignity are precious in the eyes of God. We must help and save, because we are all responsible for the life of our neighbour, and the Lord will ask for an account about this at the time of judgment. Thank you.

Now, gazing upon this lifejacket, and gazing upon the cross, let us all pray in silence.

May the Lord bless you all.
Testo originale nella lingua italiana

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