Pope Francis: Show Concrete Mercy to Refugees

Pope Francis: Show Concrete Mercy to Refugees September 6, 2015

In an appeal following his Sunday Angelus prayer, Pope Francis called on Catholic Churches throughout Europe to respond to the refugee crisis in Europe by taking in refugee families.   His remarks are being widely reported (e.g. here at CNA/EWTN) but the full text of his remarks are only available in Italian from the Vatican.  Below I have posted a quick English translation.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The mercy of God comes to be known through our works, as has been shown to us by the life of Beatus Mother Teresa of Calcutta [Kolkata], the anniversary of whose death we remembered yesterday.

Before us is the tragedy of tens of thousands of refugees who flee from death by war and famine, and who are making their way towards a life of hope;  the Gospels call on us to be “neighbors” to the least and to the abandoned, to give them concrete hope.    It is not enough to say, “have courage, patience!…”  Cristian hope is more combative [scrappy? pugnacious?], with the tenacity of one who goes towards a certain goal. 

Therefore, with the Jubilee of Mercy imminent, I  appeal to the parishes, religious communities, monasteries and sanctuaries in all of Europe to express the Gospel concretely and taken in a family of refugees.  [This will be] a concrete gesture in preparation for the Holy Year of Mercy.

Every parish, every religious community, every monastery, every sanctuary in Europe should host a family, beginning in my diocese of Rome.

I call on my brother bishops in Europe, true pastors, that in their dioceses they will take up my appeal, recalling that mercy is the second name of love:  “Everything that you have done to the least of my brothers, you have done to me” (Mt 25:40).

Even the two parishes of the Vatican have accepted in these days two families of refugees.

It will be interesting to see how this appeal is received.  Certainly, given the stance already taken by their leadership (e..g, see the recent comment by Cardinal Marx)  and the overwhelming support from the German government, the German church will respond to this appeal.  More important will be the response of the Church in Eastern Europe, such as in Hungary, where the government has shown much more hostility and disdain towards the refugees.  Statements made by the Archbishop of Hungary in the past few days seem tepid, and he appears unwilling to directly challenge the animosity of the government and right-wing parties.

Mindful that we face our own refugee crisis on our southern border, there are still opportunities for Catholics in the United States to help.  Catholic Relief Services and Caritas International are both accepting donations to aid refugees in Europe and also in Syria and the countries around it (who have taken in many more refugees than all of Europe).   Additional organizations working in both Europe and the Middle East are listed in articles by Public Radio International and The Independent.

Let me close this post with a prayer for refugees from the USCCB, which is in reality a prayer for the conversion of our own hearts:

Lord Jesus, when you multiplied the loaves and fishes, you provided more than food for the body, you offered us the gift of yourself, the gift which satisfies every hunger and quenches every thirst! Your disciples were filled with fear and doubt, but you poured out your love and compassion on the migrant crowd, welcoming them as brothers and sisters.

Lord Jesus, today you call us to welcome the members of God’s family who come to our land to escape oppression, poverty, persecution, violence, and war. Like your disciples, we too are filled with fear and doubt and even suspicion. We build barriers in our hearts and in our minds.

Lord Jesus, help us by your grace,

  • To banish fear from our hearts, that we may embrace each of your children as our own brother and sister;
  • To welcome migrants and refugees with joy and generosity, while responding to their many needs;
  • To realize that you call all people to your holy mountain to learn the ways of peace and justice;
  • To share of our abundance as you spread a banquet before us;
  • To give witness to your love for all people, as we celebrate the many gifts they bring.

We praise you and give you thanks for the family you have called together from so many people. We see in this human family a reflection of the divine unity of the one Most Holy Trinity in whom we make our prayer: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen. 

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