Pope assures migrants that they are in his prayers and his heart

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pope Francis asked visitors to St. Peter’s Square to join him for a moment of silent prayer for migrants, especially those who have recently drowned in the English Channel and the Mediterranean and those that freeze on the border of Belarus and Poland.

“How many migrants are exposed today to serious dangers and how many lose their lives at our borders? the Pope asked on November 28 after reciting the Angelus’ midday prayer in the Vatican.

The Pope’s appeal came the day after he called the Mediterranean Sea a “great cemetery” in a message to the people of Cyprus and Greece, which he will visit from December 2 to 6.

A Cypriot government spokesperson said that after the Pope’s visit, a group of asylum seekers currently in Cyprus will move to Italy under Vatican sponsorship.

“This symbolic gesture demonstrates the solidarity of the primate of the Roman Catholic Church towards our fellow human beings in need,” declared Marios Pelekanos, the government spokesperson. “This also confirms the Vatican’s support for the problem facing the Republic of Cyprus today due to increased migratory flows, as well as the need for a fair distribution” of migrants and refugees in the countries of the ‘European Union’ to alleviate the problem in frontline countries.

Reuters news agency quoted a Vatican source who said the Pope had offered to help resettle 50 migrants, although they are unlikely to arrive in Italy before Christmas due to the paperwork involved.

In his Angelus speech, the Pope said it was painful to think about the plight of many migrants and refugees today, including those sent back to North Africa, where they easily fall prey to traffickers, “Who turn them into slaves, selling women, torturing men.”

Prayer and action must be the answer, he said, thanking various Catholic charities and others dedicated to helping migrants and refugees.

“I renew my most sincere appeal to those who can contribute to a resolution of these problems, in particular the civil and military authorities, so that understanding and dialogue finally prevail over any form of exploitation” and that respect for dignity human rights of everyone is respected, he added. noted.

In the video message to the Cypriot and Greek people on November 27, Pope Francis spoke of their lands as “sources” of early Christianity, brotherhood and Europe with Cyprus as “the outpost of Earth. Holy on the Continent ”and Greece as“ the home of classical culture ”.

“Even today, Europe cannot ignore the Mediterranean, the sea which has seen the spread of the Gospel and the development of great civilizations,” he declared. “The sea, which embraces many peoples, with its open ports reminds us that the sources of living together lie in mutual acceptance.

While waiting to visit the Orthodox and Catholic populations of the two countries, Pope Francis declared that he could not forget “those who, in recent years and even today, have fled war and poverty, landing on the shores of the continent and elsewhere, and encounter not hospitality but hostility and even exploitation.

“They are our brothers and sisters,” he said. “How many have lost their lives at sea! Today our sea, the Mediterranean, is a great cemetery.

“As a pilgrim to the sources of humanity,” Pope Francis said he would visit migrants on the Greek island of Lesvos as he did in 2016 to stress that peaceful coexistence is not possible than with “fraternity and integration”.

Meeting on November 27 with the organizers of the Giàvera festival – showcasing the music, food and cultures of the migrants who settled in the north of the Italian diocese of Treviso – Pope Francis congratulated them for ensuring that “the yours is a house with many windows open to the world. “

The program, he said, promotes “a culture of hospitality rather than a culture of the throwaway”.

“The reality of migration in our time has taken on characteristics that can sometimes be frightening,” the Pope told the group. “So there is a need more than ever for places where the faces, stories, songs, prayers and art of migrants are put at the center. “

Welcoming migrants and refugees, listening to them and learning from them is not “to hide or ignore the difficulties and problems” that large movements of people can bring, Pope Francis said. But the experience of individuals and communities who have successfully integrated newcomers should be shared with government decision-makers to ensure that “healthy realism is combined with respect for the dignity of individuals”.

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