ROME — Pope Francis said Saturday that migrants are among the most vulnerable and marginalized members of society, while for God no one is a “stranger.”
In his yearly Christmas address to the Roman Curia, the pope spoke of the need for an attitude of “epochal change” to meet the needs of the present day, while calling on the Church to promote the “integral development of the human person.”
This development takes place by “serving those who are most vulnerable and marginalized, particularly those forced to emigrate, who at the present time represent a voice crying in the wilderness of our humanity,” Francis said, with an allusion to the biblical figure of Saint John the Baptist.
“The Church is thus called to remind everyone that it is not simply a matter of social or migration questions but of human persons, of our brothers and sisters who today are a symbol of all those discarded by the globalized society,” he said.
The Church “is called to testify that for God no one is a ‘stranger’ or an ‘outcast,’” he continued. “She is called to awaken consciences slumbering in indifference to the reality of the Mediterranean Sea, which has become for many, all too many, a cemetery.”
Pope Francis has made immigration a hallmark of his pontificate, urging nations to open pathways to streamline migration, which furnishes opportunities for “racial mixing.”
On Thursday, Pope Francis presided over the installation of a migrant crucifix in the Vatican, on which he had a migrant life vest placed on the cross in place of the body of Jesus.
“We are facing another death caused by injustice,” Francis said in his address prior to the unveiling of the crucifix. “Yes, because it is injustice that forces many migrants to leave their lands. It is injustice that forces them to cross deserts and suffer abuse and torture in detention camps. It is injustice that rejects them and makes them die at sea.”
“I decided to exhibit this life jacket, ‘crucified’ on this cross, 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,” he said.
In referring to migrant deaths at sea, the pope seemed to take aim at the policies of former Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, who closed Italy’s ports to curb the nation’s mass illegal immigration.
“I thank the Lord for all those who have decided not to remain indifferent and do their utmost to help the victim, without asking too many questions about how or why the poor half-dead person wound up on their street,” Francis said. “It is not blocking their boats that the problem is solved.”
In reality, migrant sea deaths declined significantly as a result of Mr. Salvini’s closing of Italian ports, which blocked the illegal trafficking of migrants across the sea. After Italy’s new leftist government reopened the ports, migrant sea deaths have again begun rising.