Pope Francis meets with 33 recently arrived Refugees and Unveils Cross saying "...every person, whose life and dignity are precious in the eyes of God." Full Text

Pope Francis meets 33 refugees who recently arrived from the Greek island of Lesbos and unveils a cross in the Vatican’s Belvedere Courtyard to remember all migrants and refugees. THE POPE MEETS THE REFUGEES RECENTLY RECEIVED FROM LESBOS WITH THE HUMANITARIAN CORRIDORS


Thursday, December 19, 2019

This is the second life jacket I receive as a gift. The first one was given to me a few years ago by a group of rescuers. It belonged to a little girl who drowned in the Mediterranean. I then donated it to the two Undersecretaries of the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Department for the Integral Human Development Service. I told them: "Here is your mission!" With this I wanted to signify the indispensable commitment of the Church to save the lives of migrants, to then be able to welcome, protect, promote and integrate them.

This second jacket, delivered by another group of rescuers only a few days ago, belonged to a migrant who died at sea last July. No one knows who he was or where he came from. It is only known that his jacket was recovered adrift in the Central Mediterranean, on 3 July 2019, at certain geographical coordinates. We are facing another death caused by injustice. Yes, because it is injustice that forces many migrants to leave their lands. It is the injustice that forces them to cross deserts and suffer abuse and torture in detention camps. It is the injustice that rejects them and makes them die at sea.

The jacket "dresses" a cross in colored resin, which wants to express the spiritual experience that I was able to grasp from the words of the rescuers. In Jesus Christ the cross is a source of salvation, "foolishness for those who are lost - says St. Paul - but for those who are saved, that is for us, it is the power of God" (1 Cor 1:18). In the Christian tradition the cross is a symbol of suffering and sacrifice and, at the same time, of redemption and salvation.

This cross is transparent: it presents itself as a challenge to look more carefully and to always seek the truth. The cross is luminescent: it wants to encourage our faith in the Resurrection, the triumph of Christ over death. Even the unknown migrant, who died with hope in a new life, participates in this victory. Rescuers told me how they are learning humanity from the people they can save. They revealed to me how in every mission they rediscover the beauty of being one big human family, united in universal fraternity.

I decided to expose here 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.

How can we not listen to the desperate cry of so many brothers and sisters who prefer to face a stormy sea rather than die slowly in Libyan detention camps, places of torture and despicable slavery? How can we remain indifferent to the abuses and violence of which they are innocent victims, leaving them at the mercy of unscrupulous traffickers? How can we "go beyond", like the priest and the Levite in the parable of the Good Samaritan (see Lk 10: 31-32), making us so responsible for their death? Our sloth is a sin!

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 ended up on their way. It is not blocking their boats that the problem is solved. Serious efforts must be made to empty the detention camps in Libya, evaluating and implementing all possible solutions. It is necessary to denounce and prosecute traffickers who exploit and mistreat migrants, without fear of revealing connivance and complicity with the institutions. Economic interests must be set aside so that at the center there is the person, every person, whose life and dignity are precious in the eyes of God. We must help and save, because we are all responsible for the life of our neighbor, and the Lord there is will ask for an account at the time of judgment. Thanks.

Now, looking at this jacket and looking at the cross, everyone silently pray.

The Lord bless you all.
FULL TEXT + Image Source: Vatican.va - Unofficial Translation