Vatican Honors All Migrants ‘Displaced Like Jesus’

In this Oct. 1, 2017 file photo, Pope Francis poses for selfies with migrants at a regional migrant center, in Bologna, Italy. In a message issued by the Vatican Friday, Nov. 24, 2017, Francis is decrying those whipping up fear of migrants for political gain, and is urging people to …
AP/Luca Bruno

ROME — The Vatican has urged greater attention to migrants in the new year, inviting the faithful to see them as people who have been “displaced like Jesus.”

“One year ends, a new one begins, let’s walk again the path made with our brothers and sisters #DisplacedlikeJesus,” declared the Vatican’s office for Migrants and Refugees in a tweet Sunday.

“Building the Kingdom of God is a commitment that all Christians share,” the message added, citing Pope Francis, and “it is necessary that we learn to collaborate.”

In a video message embedded in the tweet, Pope Francis explains that he had chosen the theme “Forced like Jesus Christ to flee” for his message for the 2020 World Day of Migrants and Refugees to remind people of what Jesus experienced as a child “displaced and a refugee.”

The pope’s message for 2020 declared that the tragedy of internally displaced people is “one of the challenges of our contemporary world, especially because of “situations of conflict and humanitarian emergencies, aggravated by climate change.”

“I have decided to devote this Message to the drama of internally displaced persons, an often unseen tragedy that the global crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated,” the pontiff noted, adding that the health crisis “has relegated to the bottom of national political agendas those urgent international efforts essential to saving lives.”

During the flight into Egypt, “the child Jesus experienced with his parents the tragic fate of the displaced and refugees,” Francis said in his message, citing a 1952 text by Pope Pius XII, “which is marked by fear, uncertainty and unease.”

“Unfortunately, in our own times, millions of families can identify with this sad reality. Almost every day the television and papers carry news of refugees fleeing from hunger, war and other grave dangers, in search of security and a dignified life for themselves and for their families,” Francis said.

“In each of these people, forced to flee to safety, Jesus is present as he was at the time of Herod,” he continued. “In the faces of the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the sick, strangers and prisoners, we are called to see the face of Christ who pleads with us to help.”

“If we can recognize him in those faces, we will be the ones to thank him for having been able to meet, love and serve him in them,” he said.

Two weeks ago, the Vatican insisted that a focus on the coronavirus pandemic must not draw people’s attention away from migrants.

“The pandemic must not make us forget other dramatic situations, such as violence and abuses against migrants,” said Father Fabio Baggio, a Vatican official at the office for Migrants and Refugees.

Commemorating the U.N.’s International Migrants Day Friday, Father Baggio said that “a whole series of dramas that existed before the pandemic are still there and some are even aggravated. Among these, there was also the tragedy of displaced persons, refugees, migrants who were raped or whose rights have been violated.”

We need to overcome “the human instinct to focus on ourselves when we are faced with a dangerous situation” in order to “look beyond, to notice the situations of others.”

This is a “temptation present in our world, understandable because it is part of our nature,” he said.

“We are all in the same boat and no one can be left behind,” the Vatican official said. “Here we are all saved together.”

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