Pope to Immigrants: the Good Samaritan Did Not Ask for ‘Documents’

TOPSHOT - Pope Francis poses for photographs during a meeting with a group of migrants at his weekly audience in St. Peter's square at the Vatican for on on June 6, 2018. (Photo by TIZIANA FABI / AFP) (Photo credit should read TIZIANA FABI/AFP/Getty Images)

At his “Mass for Migrants” in the Vatican Friday, Pope Francis called for an international response of “solidarity and mercy” to the ongoing immigration crisis.

Marking the fifth anniversary of his visit to the Italian island of Lampedusa to meet with migrants in 2013, the pope addressed both migrants and rescuers in his homily at the Mass, comparing the latter to modern-day Good Samaritans.

“I thank the rescuers for embodying in our day the parable of the Good Samaritan, who stopped to save the life of the poor man beaten by bandits,” Francis said. “He didn’t ask where he was from, his reasons for travelling or his documents… he simply decided to care for him and save his life.”

The pope promised his “solidarity and encouragement” with migrants, asking them to be “witnesses of hope in a world increasingly concerned about the present, with little vision for the future and averse to sharing.”

“With respect for the culture and laws of the country that receives you, may you work out together the path of integration,” he said.

The pontiff also had strong words for those who fail to open their doors to migrants, comparing them to the oppressed poor of the Old Testament who were “trampled on.”

“How many of the poor are trampled on in our day!” he said. “Among them, I cannot fail to include the migrants and refugees who continue to knock at the door of nations that enjoy greater prosperity.”

Recalling the many migrants who have lost their lives in recent years attempting the perilous crossing of the Mediterranean Sea from North Africa to Europe, Francis repeated God’s words to Cain in the book of Genesis: “Where is your brother? His blood cries out to me.”

“Sadly, the response to this appeal, even if at times generous, has not been enough, and we continue to grieve thousands of deaths,” he said.

The pope’s words come in the midst of recent debates over the role of NGOs providing a “shuttle service” to migrants from Africa to Europe. Some, including Frontex, the European border control agency, have suggested that the “pull factor” from the availability of this service has emboldened human traffickers and increased the risk of migrant deaths at sea.

In a 64-page report released in 2017, Frontex suggested that NGOs have become accomplices to people smugglers by providing a reliable taxi service for migrants from Africa to Europe, lowering smugglers’ costs and improving their “business model.”

“Migrants and refugees – encouraged by the stories of those who had successfully made it in the past – attempt the dangerous crossing since they are aware of and rely on humanitarian assistance to reach the EU,” the report states.

Ironically, the encouragement of risky behavior through NGO services and Europe’s open-door policy to migration has contributed in a major way to the tremendous loss of life in the Mediterranean.

Returning in his homily to the parable of the Good Samaritan, the pope said that many are tempted today to look the other way rather than dirtying their hands to help their neighbors in need.

This temptation “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,” he said.

“Before the challenges of contemporary movements of migration, the only reasonable response is one of solidarity and mercy,” Francis continued. “A response less concerned with calculations, than with the need for an equitable distribution of responsibilities, an honest and sincere assessment of the alternatives and a prudent management.”

The pope recognized that a just immigration is “concerned for the good of one’s own country,” while also “taking into account that of others in an ever more interconnected world.”

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