ROME — Pope Francis said Thursday the Church of today is called to “widen her tent to embrace everyone,” especially migrants and foreigners.
We are “called to work together so that there will be no more walls that separate us, no longer others, but only a single ‘we,’ encompassing all of humanity,” the pontiff said in his Message for the 2021 World Day of Migrants and Refugees, which will be celebrated next September 26.
We must “make every effort to break down the walls that separate us and, in acknowledging our profound interconnection, build bridges that foster a culture of encounter,” the pope said. “Today’s migration movements offer an opportunity for us to overcome our fears and let ourselves be enriched by the diversity of each person’s gifts.”
“Then, if we so desire, we can transform borders into privileged places of encounter, where the miracle of an ever wider ‘we’ can come about,” he added.
The pope said that Catholics, in particular, have the chance to grow in their faith by welcoming people different from themselves.
“In encountering the diversity of foreigners, migrants and refugees, and in the intercultural dialogue that can emerge from this encounter, we have an opportunity to grow as Church and to enrich one another,” he said.
The unity of the human race “is broken and fragmented, wounded and disfigured,” Francis said, due in large part to nationalism and individualism.
“Our ‘we,’ both in the wider world and within the Church, is crumbling and cracking due to myopic and aggressive forms of nationalism and radical individualism,” he said. “And the highest price is being paid by those who most easily become viewed as others: foreigners, migrants, the marginalized, those living on the existential peripheries.”
“Among those dwelling in those existential peripheries, we find many migrants and refugees, displaced persons and victims of trafficking, to whom the Lord wants his love to be manifested and his salvation preached,” he added.
The pope also said that the current influx of migrants in many parts of the world “can be seen as a new ‘frontier’ for mission, a privileged opportunity to proclaim Jesus Christ and the Gospel message.”
By welcoming migrants, our societies “will have a ‘colorful’ future, enriched by diversity and by cultural exchanges,” he said.
In his boldest proposal, the pope called for “a commitment that makes no distinction between natives and foreigners, between residents and guests, since it is a matter of a treasure we hold in common, from whose care and benefits no one should be excluded.”
“We are called to dream together, fearlessly, as a single human family, as companions on the same journey, as sons and daughters of the same earth that is our common home, sisters and brothers all,” he concluded.