~ by Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service published in National Catholic Reporter
Vatican City – The sad reality of people displaced within the borders of their own country, a crisis that has been ignored for far too long, is an opportunity for Christians to encounter Jesus, Pope Francis said.
“In each of these people, forced to flee to safety, Jesus is present as he was at the time of Herod. In the faces of the hungry, the naked, the sick, strangers and prisoners, we are called to see the face of Christ who pleads with us to help,” the Pope wrote in his message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2020.
his message, the pope said the sufferings endured by internally displaced persons have only been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.
“In the light of the tragic events that have marked 2020, I would like this message, although concerned with internally displaced persons, to embrace all those who are experiencing situations of precariousness, abandonment, marginalization and rejection as a result of COVID-19,” he wrote.
Reflecting on the pastoral challenge to “welcome, protect, promote and integrate” migrants, the pope said he wished to expand on those verbs to further explain the church’s mission. To be close to displaced persons, he continued, means to serve them and not turn them away due to fear and prejudices that “often prevent us from becoming neighbors.”
“The pandemic has reminded us how we are all in the same boat,” he said. “Realizing that we have the same concerns and fears has shown us once more that no one can be saved alone,” he said.
The pope said that the pandemic serves as a reminder of co-responsibility. “To preserve our common home…we must commit ourselves to ensuring international cooperation, global solidarity and local commitment, leaving no one excluded,” [concluded] Pope Francis.
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