Pope Francis says "...we keep our gaze fixed on Jesus, on Him, who is "our peace" FULL TEXT at Ecumenical Prayer with Migrants in Cyprus


(2-6 DECEMBER 2021)


 Parish Church of the Holy Cross in Nicosia
Friday, December 3, 2021


Dear brothers and sisters!

It is a great joy to be here with you and to conclude my visit to Cyprus with this prayer meeting. I thank the Patriarchs Pizzaballa and Béchara Raï, as well as Mrs Elisabeth of Caritas. I greet with affection and gratitude the representatives of the various Christian confessions present in Cyprus.

A big “thank you” from the heart I wish to say to you, young migrants, who have given your testimonies. I had received them in advance about a month ago and they had impressed me so much, and even today they moved me, once again, to hear them. But it is not just emotion, it is much more: it is the emotion that comes from the beauty of the truth. Like that of Jesus when he exclaimed: "I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned and revealed them to the little ones" ( Mt 11:25). I too praise the heavenly Father because this is happening today, here - as well as throughout the world -: to the little ones God reveals his Kingdom, the Kingdom of love, justice and peace.

After listening to you, we better understand all the prophetic power of the Word of God which, through the apostle Paul, says: "You are no longer strangers or guests, but fellow citizens of the saints, family members of God" ( Eph 2:19) . Words written to the Christians of Ephesus - not far from here! -; very distant in time, but very close words, more current than ever, as written today for us: "You are not foreigners, but fellow citizens ". This is the prophecy of the Church: a community that - with all human limitations - embodies the dream of God. Because God also dreams, like you, Mariamie, who come from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and you have defined yourself as "full of dreams". Like you, God dreams of a world of peace, in which his children live as brothers and sisters. God  , God dreams this. We don't want it.

Your presence, migrant brothers and sisters, is very significant for this celebration. Your testimonies are like a "mirror" for us, Christian communities. When you, Thamara, who are from Sri Lanka, say: “I am often asked who I am”: The brutality of migration puts one's identity on the line. “But am I this? I don't know ... Where are my roots? Who I am?". And when you say this, you remind us that we too are sometimes asked this question: "Who are you?". And unfortunately it often means: “Which side are you on? Which group do you belong to? ". But as you told us, we are not numbers, we are not individuals to be cataloged; we are "brothers", "friends", "believers", "close" to each other. But when group interests or political interests, even of nations, push, many of us find ourselves put aside, unwittingly, slaves. Because interest always enslaves, always creates slaves. Love, which is broad, which is contrary to hatred, love sets us free.

When you, Maccolins, who come from Cameroon, say that in the course of your life you have been “ wounded by hatred ”, you are talking about this, these wounds of interests; and remind us that hatred has also polluted our relations between Christians. And this, as you said, leaves its mark, a deep mark that lasts a long time. It is a poison. Yes, you made it feel, with your passion: hatred is a poison from which it is difficult to detoxify. And hatred is a distorted mentality, which instead of being recognized as brothers, makes us see us as opponents, as rivals, if not as objects to be sold or exploited.

When you, Rozh, who come from Iraq, say that you are "a person on the road ", you remind us that we too are communities on the move, we are on the way from conflict to communion . On this road, which is long and is made up of ups and downs, the differences between us must not frighten us, but rather, yes, our closures, our prejudices, which prevent us from truly meeting and walking together, must frighten us. The closures and prejudices between us rebuild that wall of separation that Christ broke down, that is, enmity (cf. Eph 2:14). And then our journey towards full unity can take steps forward to the extent that, all together, we keep our gaze fixed on Jesus, on Him, who is "our peace" ( ibid..), which is the "cornerstone" (v. 20). And He, the Lord Jesus, comes to meet us with the face of his marginalized and rejected brother. With the face of the despised, rejected, caged, exploited migrant… But also - as you said - of the migrant who is traveling towards something, towards a hope, towards a more human coexistence.

And so God speaks to us through your dreams. The danger is that many times we do not let dreams enter us and we prefer to sleep and not dream. It is so easy to look the other way. And in this world we got used to that culture of indifference, that culture of looking the other way, and fall asleep like this, calmly. But on this path you can never dream. Is hard. God speaks through your dreams. God does not speak through people who cannot dream of anything, because they have everything or because their hearts have hardened. God also calls us not to resign ourselves to a divided world, not to resign ourselves to divided Christian communities, but to walk through history attracted by the dream of God, that is, a humanity without walls of separation, freed from enmity, without strangers but only fellow citizens, as Paul told us in the passage I quoted. Different, of course, and proud of our peculiarities; proud of being different, of these peculiarities which are a gift of God. Different, proud of being different, but always reconciled, always brothers.

May this island, marked by a painful division - I am looking at the wall, there [through the open door of the church] - may with the grace of God become a laboratory of fraternityI thank everyone who works for this. Thinking that this Island is generous, but it cannot do everything, because the number of people arriving is greater than its ability to insert, integrate, accompany, promote. Its geographical proximity facilitates…, but it is not easy. We need to understand the limits to which the rulers of this Island are bound. But there is always in this Island, and I have seen it in the leaders I have visited, [the commitment] to become, with the grace of God, a laboratory of fraternity. And it can be on two conditions. The first is the effective recognition of the dignity of every human person (cf. Enc. Brothers All , 8). Our dignity is not sold, not rented, not lost. The high forehead: I am worthyson of God. The effective recognition of the dignity of every human person: this is the ethical foundation, a universal foundation which is also at the heart of Christian social doctrine. The second condition is confident openness to God the Father of all; and this is the "leaven" that we are called to bring as believers (cf. ibid . , 272).

Under these conditions it is possible that the dream is translated into a daily journey , made up of concrete steps from conflict to communion, from hatred to love , from flight to encounter. A patient journey that, day after day, makes us enter the land that God has prepared for us, the land where, if you are asked: “ Who are you? ", You can answer openly:" Look, I'm your brother: you don't know me? ". And go like this, slowly.

Listening to you, looking you in the face, the memory goes beyond, it goes to sufferings. You have arrived here: but how many of your brothers and sisters are left on the road? How many desperate people start their journey in very difficult conditions, even precarious ones, and have not been able to arrive? We can talk about this sea which has become a great cemetery. Looking at you, I look at the sufferings of the journey, so many who have been kidnapped, sold, exploited…, they are still on the way, we do not know where. It is the story of a slavery, a universal slavery. We watch what happens, and the worst is that we are getting used to it. "Ah, yes, today a boat sank, there ... so many missing ...". But watch this get used toit is a serious disease, it is a very serious disease and there is no antibiotic for this disease! We must go against this habit of getting used to reading these tragedies in the newspapers or hearing them in other media. Looking at you, I think of many who have had to go back because they rejected them and ended up in concentration camps , real camps , where women are sold, men tortured, enslaved ... We complain when we read the stories of the camps of the last century, those of the Nazis, those of Stalin, we complain when we see this and we say: “but why did this happen?”. Brothers and sisters: it is happening today, in the nearby coasts! Places of slavery. I looked at some filmed testimonies of this: places of torture, people selling. I say this because it is my responsibility to help open your eyes. Forced migration is not a quasi-tourist habit: please! And the sin we have inside leads us to think like this: “Well, poor people, poor people!”. And with those "poor people" we erase everything. It is the war of this moment, it is the suffering of brothers and sisters that we cannot keep silent. Those who have given everything they had to get on a boat, at night, and then ... without knowing if they will arrive ... And then, many rejected to end up in the lager , real places of confinement and torture and slavery.

This is the story of this developed civilization , which we call the West . And then - excuse me, but I would like to say what I have in my heart, at least to pray for each other and do something - then, the barbed wire. I see one here: this is a war of hatred that divides a country. But the barbed wires, in other parts where they exist, are put in place so as not to let the refugee enter, the one who comes to ask for freedom, bread, help, brotherhood, joy, who is fleeing from hatred and is faced with a hatred that it's called barbed wire . May the Lord awaken the conscience of all of us in the face of these things.

And excuse me if I said things as they are, but we cannot be silent and look the other way, in this culture of indifference.

May the Lord bless you all! Thanks.

 FULL TEXT Source: Vatican.va - Image Screenshot - Translation from Italian