Pope Francis: Migrants bearing brunt of ‘aggressive’ nationalism and ‘radical individualism’

Pope Francis washes the feet of migrants and refugees during Holy Thursday Mass March 24, 2016. / L’Osservatore Romano.

CNA Staff, May 6, 2021 / 06:10 am (CNA).

Pope Francis said Thursday that “aggressive forms of nationalism and radical individualism,” exposed during the pandemic, are having a severe impact on migrants worldwide.

In his message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, issued May 6, he said that the coronavirus crisis had highlighted the deep divisions between human beings.

“Our ‘we,’ both in the wider world and within the Church, is crumbling and cracking due to myopic and aggressive forms of nationalism and radical individualism,” he said.

“And the highest price is being paid by those who most easily become viewed as others: foreigners, migrants, the marginalized, those living on the existential peripheries.”

The World Day of Migrants and Refugees, instituted in 1914 by Pope Pius X, is celebrated annually on the last Sunday in September. This year it falls on Sept. 26.

In his message for the day’s 107th commemoration, entitled “Towards an ever wider ‘we’,” Pope Francis addressed what he called a “twofold appeal,” to Catholics and the wider world, to embrace those on the margins.

He urged Catholics “to make the Church become ever more inclusive.”

“In our day,” he wrote, “the Church is called to go out into the streets of every existential periphery in order to heal wounds and to seek out the straying, without prejudice or fear, without proselytizing, but ready to widen her tent to embrace everyone.”

“Among those dwelling in those existential peripheries, we find many migrants and refugees, displaced persons and victims of trafficking, to whom the Lord wants his love to be manifested and his salvation preached.”

He appealed to those outside the Church to work with Catholics to build “a future of justice and peace.”

“Our societies will have a ‘colorful’ future, enriched by diversity and by cultural exchanges. Consequently, we must even now learn to live together in harmony and peace,” he commented.

He continued: “Today’s migration movements offer an opportunity for us to overcome our fears and let ourselves be enriched by the diversity of each person’s gifts. Then, if we so desire, we can transform borders into privileged places of encounter, where the miracle of an ever wider ‘we’ can come about.”

The pope argued that greater solidarity was also necessary “to ensure the proper care of our common home.”

He said: “Ours must be a personal and collective commitment that cares for all our brothers and sisters who continue to suffer, even as we work towards a more sustainable, balanced and inclusive development.”

“A commitment that makes no distinction between natives and foreigners, between residents and guests, since it is a matter of a treasure we hold in common, from whose care and benefits no one should be excluded.”

In an intervention prepared for a Vatican press conference launching the pope’s message, Cardinal Michael Czerny noted that the text developed themes in the pope’s latest encyclical, Fratelli tutti.

Referring to the pandemic, he said: “We are all suffering in different ways. What happens when the survivors in a lifeboat must all help to row to shore? What if some take more than their share of the rations, leaving others too weak to row? The risk is that everyone will perish, the well-fed and the starving alike.”

Czerny, the under-secretary of the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, added: “Widening the Good Samaritan attitude — overcoming selfishness and caring for all — is essential to survival.”

During the press conference, a video campaign for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees was presented, featuring Bishop Mark Seitz of El Paso describing the situation on the border between Mexico and the United States.

He said: “I’ve found the most rewarding opportunities of my life serving here at the border. I’ve learned that borders can be vibrant places of encounter and welcome — encounters that enrich us. I’ve learned that we are all interconnected as one human family. We stand or fall together. We build walls and fences which divide us. Today people of faith need to be bridge builders.”

Speaking via video link, Bishop Paul McAleenan, an auxiliary bishop of the English diocese of Westminster, said that the pope’s message offered encouragement to Catholics in the U.K.

He said: “Pope Francis draws our attention to the interconnectedness of humanity: my decisions and actions here affect others who are far away.”

“Three areas in particular directly affect the human family today. The decision of the United Kingdom to reduce its aid budget compounds the suffering of the world’s poorest. Nations engaging in the arms trade bring endless misery to those in places of conflict. Our contribution to the climate emergency results in droughts, disasters and displacement thousands of miles away. Understanding the reasons for migration must include the acknowledgement that we are not blameless.”

Also speaking via video link, Sarah Teather, director of the Jesuit Refugee Service UK, said that in her work she witnessed the lack of solidarity that Pope Francis described in his message.

“Faced with those who fled their homes and sought sanctuary, the asylum system builds walls of suspicion to stop them receiving the protection they need,” she explained.

“It detains them and enforces destitution. Destitution makes many vulnerable to abuse and exploitation, and they speak of the sense of losing themselves through years struggling at the margins.”

She highlighted the success of a project in which religious congregations and families welcome homeless asylum seekers into their homes.

She said: “Together, they create a counter-culture to the hostile public policies that render people homeless and marginalized.”

“In small, concrete ways, we can all participate in this shared project to recompose a common human family. For there are treasures to be found when we strive together to break down walls that divide us. The dream of one human family is a dream worth realizing.”

Pope Francis closed his World Day of Migrants and Refugees message with an appeal to people to “dream together” of a better future for all humanity.

He concluded with a prayer:

Holy, beloved Father,
your Son Jesus taught us
that there is great rejoicing in heaven
whenever someone lost is found,
whenever someone excluded, rejected or discarded
is gathered into our “we”,
which thus becomes ever wider.

We ask you to grant the followers of Jesus,
and all people of good will,
the grace to do your will on earth.
Bless each act of welcome and outreach
that draws those in exile
into the “we” of community and of the Church,
so that our earth may truly become
what you yourself created it to be:
the common home of all our brothers and sisters. Amen.

If you value the news and views Catholic World Report provides, please consider donating to support our efforts. Your contribution will help us continue to make CWR available to all readers worldwide for free, without a subscription. Thank you for your generosity!

Click here for more information on donating to CWR. Click here to sign up for our newsletter.

About Catholic News Agency 10244 Articles
Catholic News Agency (www.catholicnewsagency.com)


  1. Pope Francis, I will be kind to all who respect the moral and lawful regulations instituted and approved by the duly elected congress of the people. We, the people of the United States, in this case.
    If the people no longer desire those laws, then they lawfully petition the congress to change or abolish the law. This is what civilized, individual citizens do in a democratic republic. I will never support the mobs at the border screaming their demands at us.
    I know this conflicts with your top down world government view. So be it. I will never, as you have clearly done, bow to the globalist corporatist elites for the sake of their condescending smiles.

  2. “How many angels can dance in the head of a pin?” This old saying, a study in myopic irrelevancy, reminds me of where the Pope appears to be in his understanding the issue of unregulated immigration, on EVERY LEVEL.People of various nations, NOT just the US, are entitled to maintain their languages, customs and culture. This becomes IMPOSSIBLE when a nation is overwhelmed with others who share NONE of those things. The French for example , are allowed to remain speaking French, being mostly Catholic, and eating French style food.Ditto the Italians,the Dutch, the Swedes, and yes, even here in the US. Unregulated and unwanted illegal immigration is invasion, in point of fact. In countries where intense Muslim immigration has happened,especially Europe, a cultural clash has arisen, and Christianity is under attack as seen in an increasing number of arsons, and vandalism. Crimes such as rape have also been on the rise. These crime statistics have been documented. With focus on the US, I would ask if the Pope is aware of the real effects of illegal immigration—- drownings, drug smuggling, sex trafficking, and minor children abandoned by reckless parents in a bid to get their child a free pass into the US? Is he aware that such things are happening at uncontrollable numbers because of leftist US policy, in complete disregard to the concept of law and order? And his own ongoing critical statements prop up this dangerous political point of view. Obedience to civil authorities I thought was once an underpinning of christian thought. There is extreme and DOCUMENTED damage being wrought at the southern border of the US in spite of DEM attempts to squash press reports there. The Pope is himself culpable of adding to this rising human tragedy by a continued obstinacy on this topic, as if law didnt matter and any nation’s resources to take in millions of people are endless.They are not. The Pope of all people should know that food and shelter are not free. Rather than attacking the US constantly on this issue, he should be advocating for ALL persons to adhere to the law regarding immigration. To refuse to do so is not only irresponsible, it is potentially deadly to those who chose to crash through our gates. There is no free lunch. Someone indeed has to pay .For too long it has been the hard working, tax paying citizens of the US. The church should back away from dabbling in secular political topics like illegal immigration, about which they clearly fail to grasp the realities. And start to spend more time on the spiritual issues, which may lack glamour, but are the proper province of church leaders.

  3. St Joseph please pray for all migrants, and all those who are trafficked, and all those who are foolish enough to think having no borders results in a lessening of the suffering of either of these groups.

  4. No mention of parents putting their children in harms way, throwing them to the wolves to be exploited. No chastising words for the coyotes/drug traffickers–no, no – that issue is too hot to handle. No mention of young boys being forced into drug smuggling – young girls being given birth control pills because they can expect to be raped. No mention of the terror experienced by the unsuspecting that have a vision of utopia in another country. Just lecture citizens on blanket acceptance of flooding the country and anti up to support other’s irresponsibility or tyranny. This is insanity!

    • None of the issues you mentioned advances the leftist narrative, so they will all be conveniently ignored. But every point you made is, nonetheless, spot on!

  5. Only an ideologue completely divorced from reality would view what is happening on the southern border of the United States, for example, and call for breaking down walls (not quoted in this CNA piece, but part of his remarks). The borderless world Francis “dreams” of is a nightmare of violence and chaos that will make this world a much harsher place for the vast majority of people. On the other hand, the elites with whom Francis regularly mixes, despite all his cheap rhetoric about “migrants” and the “marginalized”, stand to benefit greatly as the remaining middle class resistance to their unholy agenda is crushed under the Third World deluge.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

All comments posted at Catholic World Report are moderated. While vigorous debate is welcome and encouraged, please note that in the interest of maintaining a civilized and helpful level of discussion, comments containing obscene language or personal attacks—or those that are deemed by the editors to be needlessly combative or inflammatory—will not be published. Thank you.