Pope: If integrated, migrants help society and the Church to grow


At the Vatican on Thursday, Pope Francis receives participants in a conference promoted by the “Migrantes Foundation”, the pastoral arm of the Conference of Italian Bishops (CEI) for people on the move.

By Robin Gomes

“In the light of the Latin American experience, I was able to affirm that ‘immigrants, if they are helped to integrate, are a blessing, a source of enrichment and a new gift which encourages a society to grow up, ‘”Pope Francis said on Thursday, citing his encyclical’Fratelli tutti ‘.

He was addressing some 200 participants at a conference organized by the ‘Migrantes Foundation’, the pastoral ministry of the Italian Bishops’ Conference (CEI) for emigrants, immigrants and migrants. The conference from November 9 to 12 in Rome debates on the theme “Italians in Europe and Christian Mission”.

The integration

He recalled the four stages of welcoming, accompanying, promoting and integrating migrants, failing which, he warned, could lead to serious problems. The 3 suicide bombings in Brussels, Belgium on March 22, 2016, including at Zaventem airport, he said, were carried out by children of unintegrated and ghettoized migrants.

Migrants help diversity regenerate unity

The Pope said migrants are also a blessing for Europe and its Churches. “If integrated, [migrants] can help breathe the air of a diversity that regenerates unity; they can nourish the face of catholicity; they can bear witness to the apostolicity of the Church; they can generate stories of holiness.

As an example, he cited Saint Françoise Xavier Cabrini, who in 1946 became the first American citizen to be canonized by the Church. The Italian-born nun founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus to care for her fellow Italian immigrants in the United States.

The Pope noted that the theme of the conference refers to the pastoral concern and the missionary spirit linked to Italian mobility in Europe, which can be a leaven of the new evangelization. In this regard, he shared three thoughts.

Human mobility understood as “us”

The first concerns the reading of the phenomenon of mobility or migration as “us”. He said: “We often see migrants only as ‘others’ of us, strangers,” when in reality migrants are an important part of ‘us’, people close to us – our families, our young people. students, our graduates, our unemployed, our entrepreneurs. ”According to Bishop Geremia Bonomelli of Cremona, who in 1900 started a ministry to help Italians abroad, Italian migration is like the“ Italy Girl ”traveling to Europe and in the world The Argentine Pope declared: “It is a reality that I feel particularly close, because my family has also emigrated to Argentina” from Italy.

Europe a common home

Pope Francis’ second reflection on migration concerns Europe as a common home. He declared that the Church in Europe cannot fail to consider the millions of Italian and foreign emigrants who renew the face of cities and countries, nourishing “the dream of a united Europe, capable of recognizing common roots and of rejoice in the diversity that inhabits it. “He insisted that this” beautiful mosaic “should not be” marked or corrupted by prejudices or a veiled hatred of respectability “, affirming that” Europe is called to revitalize its vocation to solidarity in subsidiarity today “.

Testimony of faith

Thirdly, the Holy Father underlined the contribution and the witness of faith of the communities of Italian emigrants in European countries. Through their deeply rooted popular religiosity, they communicated the joy of the Gospel and made visible the beauty of being open and welcoming communities by sharing the paths of local Christian communities. “How can we not think,” he said, “of our immigrant grandparents and their capacity to be generative also in terms of Christian life? He added, “It is a heritage to be preserved and nurtured, finding ways that allow us to revitalize the proclamation and witness of the faith.

Generational link

This, the Pope said, depends a lot on the dialogue between the generations: in particular between the grandparents and the grandchildren. “Although young Italians today are very different, in terms of faith, from their grandparents”, he noted, in general, “they are very attached to them”. He said it is crucial that young Italians remain attached to their roots while living in other European contexts, and draw the sap from the human and spiritual values ​​of their grandparents. In this regard, “expressions of popular piety have much to teach us”, especially with a view to the new evangelization.

Ecumenism and the synodal journey

Pope Francis also declared that “migrations have accompanied and can support, through encounters, relationships and friendship, the ecumenical journey” in the various European countries where the faithful belong for the most part to Reformed or Orthodox communities. He expressed satisfaction that the synodal process of the Churches in Italy aims to consider migrants as an important resource for the renewal and mission of the Churches in Europe. Young emigrants, often confused and alone, he said, want to see a Church – and its pastors – attentive and walking with and among them.

Pope Francis encouraged the members of the Migrantes Foundation in their commitment to think creatively “a mission oriented towards the future of our communities, so that they are more and more rooted in the Gospel, fraternal and welcoming” .

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