Pope Francis calls on Christians to recognize the face of Christ in migrants

Vatican City, Jul 8, 2020 / 06:05 am (CNA).- Pope Francis offered Mass Wednesday asking the Virgin Mary to help Christians recognize the face of Christ in each migrant and refugee.

“As we undertake to seek the face of the Lord, we may recognize Him in the face of the poor, the sick, the abandoned, and the foreigners whom God places on our way. And this encounter becomes for us a time of grace and salvation, as it bestows on us the same mission entrusted to the Apostles,” Pope Francis said in the Casa Santa Marta chapel July 8.

“May the Virgin Mary, Solacium migrantium, ‘Solace or Comfort of Migrants,’ help us discover the face of Her Son in all our brothers and sisters who are forced to flee from their homeland because of the many injustices that still afflict our world today,” the pope said in his homily.

Invoking the new Marian title added to the Litany of Loreto in June, Pope Francis prayed for the migrants who are in detention camps in Libya and elsewhere who are often subject to abuse and violence.

He recommended words of Christ that can be used as a part of one’s daily examination of conscience: “Truly, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.”

The pope said: “The encounter with the other is also an encounter with Christ. He himself told us. It is He who knocks on our door, hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, imprisoned, seeking an encounter with us and requesting our assistance.”

Pope Francis offered Mass at his residence to mark the seventh anniversary of his visit to the Italian island of Lampedusa. 

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, only the staff of the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Vatican Department for Promoting Integral Human Development were in attendance. 

“Today’s responsorial Psalm urges us always to seek the Lord’s face: ‘Rely on the mighty Lord, constantly seek His face,’” he said. “This quest is a fundamental attitude in the life of all the faithful, who have come to realize that the ultimate goal of their existence is the encounter with God.”

During his homily, the pope told the story of his encounter with an Ethiopian migrant during his visit to Lampedusa in 2013, recalling that he later found out that his translator at the time had “distilled” the migrant’s story because of the intensity of the suffering recounted.

“This happens today with Libya,” he said. “They give us a ‘distilled’ version. The war is bad, we know it, but you cannot imagine the hell they live through there in those detention camps. And these people only came with hope to cross the sea.”

Pope Francis has frequently spoken out about the plight of migrants detained in Libya this year. On June 14 the pope called on the international community to “take their plight to heart” and to identify pathways and means to provide them with the protection that they need for a dignified condition, adding that the health situation with the coronavirus pandemic has aggravated the migrants’ already precarious conditions.

Lampedusa, the southernmost part of Italy, is located 160 nautical miles from the Libyan capital of Tripoli. It is a primary destination for migrants from Africa seeking entry to Europe.

Pope Francis visited the Mediterranean island on July 8, 2013. The trip, his first pastoral visit outside Rome, signaled that concern for migrants would be at the center of his pontificate.

The pope quoted part of his Lampedusa homily in the livestreamed Mass. He said: “The culture of comfort, which makes us think only of ourselves, makes us insensitive to the cries of other people, makes us live in soap bubbles which, however lovely, are insubstantial; they offer a fleeting and empty illusion which results in indifference to others; indeed, it even leads to the globalization of indifference.” 

“In this globalized world, we have fallen into globalized indifference. We have become used to the suffering of others: it doesn’t affect me; it doesn’t concern me; it’s none of my business.”

The pope then responded with a reflection on how the Apostles’ lives were transformed by their encounter with Christ.

“The personal encounter with the Lord, a time of grace and salvation, immediately entails a mission: ‘As you go, Jesus tells them, make this proclamation: The kingdom of heaven is at hand,’” he said. “Encounter and mission cannot be separated.”

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  1. An erroneous conclusion from the erroneous premise that all are children of God, regardless of whether they have been regenerated in Christ or not.

  2. I’m open minded on immigration policy (though regulation is needed, to prevent trafficking and for publis safety and security) but I cannot agree with Pope Francis’s deification of migrants. As we have seen in Europe (especially Germany) many of them are harmful to their host countries, and certainly you cannot see the “face of Christ” in migrants who gangrape women and commit acts of terrorism. Some are good, some are bad.

  3. Appeal to spiritual sentiment for the migrant “hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, imprisoned, seeking an encounter with us” as the Face of Christ appears strategically embedded within a papal driven effort for globalization of the Church. Along with catch phrases “globalization of indifference” intended for a reverse psychological effect that actually promotes globalization. Our USCCB is a prime example of what those ordained as defenders of the faith have strategically become, a body more concerned with migrants on our Southern border, opposition to Trump’s wall, rare if any acknowledgment of Pres Trumps efforts, prison reform, and judicial appointments among them in protection of religious liberty. Europe’s heads of state disdain the Administration while sheepishly accepting migrants religiously, culturally antithetical even dangerously hostile to European Catholic culture [whatever remnant there is]. And significantly there is similarity in Pope Francis’ efforts to America’s current destroy and remake ideology to cleanse our Nation of systemic racism, inherent white supremacy toward egalitarian justice. Who can realistically declare that condemnation of the astronomical degree of infanticide, admonition against the disease like spread of homosexual behavior in all its deviations, that an Evangelical call to repentance for sins, metanoia, and life of moral sanctity is at the forefront of Catholicism’s message? Rather the opposite is putatively conveyed with renewed assessment of homosexuality, irregular unions [Amoris Laetitia], the exigency of environmental issues [Laudato Si], and global UN cooperative effort. Even Benedict XVI’s helping hands, the Memores Domini Sisters are now under scrutiny by Francis’ newly assigned pontifical delegate. Similar to suppression of other traditional religious groups. Except for the ‘brazen’ few Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, Roberto Di Mattei, Cardinals Walter Brandmuller, Raymond Burke, Bishop Athanasius Schneider and a handful of others we suffer within the Church the Great Silence. A silence of apathy, mitigated faith, and complicity. Who will rally the Church to take to those spiritual arms given by Christ?

    • Yup, the difficult and Christian task of prudential decision-making is not simply to word anecdotal cases into broad-brush slogans.

      About word games and reality, for example, only a few years ago we devolved from one president’s solemn word to “put a man on the moon” to another’s word to put a mooning man in the girls’ locker room! And, after that occupier of the White House had said, “I believe marriage is between a man and a woman; I am not in favor of gay marriage,” he later flipped, now saying that his words had simply “evolved” (a flat out lie according to his political advisor, David Axelrod, as recounted by Thomas McArdle in the National Catholic Register, October 30, 2016).

      One is reminded how this president began with the “audacity of hope”—while others detected only a flipped “hope in audacity.” The hidden flip side of any slogan. So, while we might give some slack to homilies, for needed consciousness-raising, it is still admissible (is it not?) to flip the page: the “globalization of indifference” versus the “indifference of globalization?”

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