ADDRESS OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS
TO THE PARTICIPANTS IN THE CONFERENCE
"ITALIANS IN EUROPE AND THE CHRISTIAN MISSION"
PROMOTED BY THE MIGRANTES FOUNDATION
OF THE ITALIAN EPISCOPAL CONFERENCE
Sala Clementina - Thursday, 11 November 2021
Dear brothers and sisters,
I welcome you and thank Cardinal Bassetti for his words of greeting and introduction. I greet the Secretary General of the CEI, the President of the Migrant Foundation with the Director and collaborators, and I extend a grateful greeting to all of you, priests and pastoral collaborators, who are at the service of the Italian-speaking communities and missions in Europe.
The theme that guides the work of your meeting is “ Italians in Europe and the Christian mission ”.
I see in this, on the one hand, the pastoral concern that always pushes us to know reality, in this case Italian mobility; and, on the other, the missionary desire that this can be a leaven, a leaven of new evangelization in Europe. In this context, I would like to share three reflections which I hope will help you in the present and in the future.
The first concerns mobility, migration . We often see migrants only as “ others ” from us, as strangers. In reality, even reading the data of the phenomenon, we discover that migrants are a significant part of " us ", as well as, in the case of Italian emigrants, people close to us: our families, our young students, graduates, unemployed , our entrepreneurs. Italian migration reveals - as the great Bishop Geremia Bonomelli, founder of the Work for the assistance of emigrants in Europe and the Middle East, wrote - an “ Italy daughter”, On the way in Europe, above all, and in the world. It is a reality that I feel particularly close, as my family also emigrated to Argentina. The "we", therefore, to read mobility.
The second reflection concerns Europe . The reading of Italian emigration to the European continent must make us increasingly aware that Europe is a common home . Even the Church in Europe cannot fail to consider the millions of Italian and foreign emigrants who are renewing the face of cities and countries. And, at the same time, they are nourishing "the dream of a united Europe, capable of recognizing common roots and of rejoicing in the diversity that inhabits it" (Enc. Fratelli tutti , 10). It is a beautiful mosaic, which should not be scarred or corrupted with prejudices or with that veiled hatred of respectability. Europe is called to revitalize its vocation to solidarity in subsidiarity today.
The third reflection concerns the testimony of faith of communities of Italian emigrants in European countries. Thanks to their deep-rooted popular religiosity, they communicated the joy of the Gospel, they made visible the beauty of being open and welcoming communities, they shared the paths of the local Christian communities. A style of communion and mission has characterized their history, and I hope it will also shape their future. It is a beautiful thread that binds us to the memory of our families. How can we not think of our emigrated grandparents and their ability to be generative also in terms of Christian life? It is a legacy to be preserved and cared for, finding the ways that allow us to revitalize the proclamation and witness of faith. And this depends a lot on the dialogue between generations : especially between grandparents and grandchildren . This is very important, I emphasize it: grandparents and grandchildren. In fact, the young Italians who move around Europe today are very different, in terms of faith, from their grandparents, yet in general they are very attached to them. And it is crucial that they remain attached to their roots: precisely when they find themselves living in other European contexts, the sap that they draw from their roots, from their grandparents, a sap of human and spiritual values, is precious. So, if there is this dialogue between generations, between grandparents and grandchildren, really "the expressions of popular piety have a lot to teach us [...], particularly when we think about the new evangelization" (Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium , 126).
In the light of the Latin American experience, I was able to affirm that "immigrants, if you help them integrate, are a blessing, a richness and a new gift that invites a society to grow" (Enc. Fratelli tutti , 135). Welcoming, accompanying, promoting and integrating the four steps. If we don't get to integration there can be problems, and serious ones. The tragedy of Zaventem always comes to mind: those who did this were Belgians, but children of non-integrated, ghettoized migrants. Welcoming, accompanying, promoting and integrating. The same can be said for Europe as well. Migrants are also a blessing for and in our Churches in Europe. If integrated, they can help breathe the air of a diversity that regenerates unity; they can nourish the face of catholicity; they can testify to the apostolicity of the Church; they can generate stories of holiness. Let us not forget, for example, that Santa Francesca Saverio Cabrini, a Lombard emigrant nun among emigrants, was the first saint of the United States of America. At the same time, migrations have accompanied and can support, through encounters, relationships and friendship, the ecumenical journey in the various European countries where the faithful mostly belong to Reformed or Orthodox communities.
In this sense, I am pleased to note that the synodal path of the Churches in Italy, also thanks to the pastoral work of the Migrantes Foundation, aims to consider migrants as an important resource for the renewal and mission of the Churches in Europe. Above all, the world of young people in emigration, often disoriented and alone, will have to see a Church with its Pastors attentive, which walks with them and among them.
Blessed Bishop Giovanni Battista Scalabrini, whose action among migrants has nourished the mission of the Churches in Italy, and Saint Francesca Cabrini, patroness of migrants, guide and protect your journey in the Churches in Europe for a new, joyful and prophetic announcement of the Gospel.
Dear brothers and sisters, thank you for what you are doing. I encourage you to continue in your commitment and to think creatively about a mission that looks to the future of our communities, so that they may be more and more rooted in the Gospel, fraternal and welcoming. I bless you and accompany you. And you, please, don't forget to pray for me. Thanks!
FULL TEXT Source: Vatican.va - Image Screenshot