Currents News Staff
This is Pope Francis’ most recent appeal to draw world attention to the plight of refugees. He did so a few days ago, recalling that since 2001 the UN has celebrated World Refugee Day every June 20.
“Today we want to remember in a special way the refugees on the day dedicated to them by the United Nations. This occasion invites everyone to stand together with the men, women and children who flee wars, persecutions and the violations of their fundamental rights,” Francis said on June 1, 2019.
One of the places that symbolizes this tragedy is the Mediterranean. There have been more than 400 deaths this year alone.
In 2013, Pope Francis’ first trip as pope was to Lampedusa. It is the first island in Europe where thousands of refugees disembark in search of a better life. There he condemned what he called the “globalization of indifference.”
“We see a person, on the brink of death, laying out on the street and we think ‘poor man.’ Yet we carry on with our day. We think: It’s not my responsibility…and we feel justified by this notion.’ Who has cried for these people who lost their lives on a boat? For the young mothers who traveled with their children? For those men, who are looking for means to support their families? We are a society that has forgotten the experience of shedding tears, of suffering amid,” Francis said on July 8, 2013.
A few months later, Pope Francis lamented upon hearing the news of a massive shipwreck that caused hundreds of deaths.
“I cannot remember without pain the many victims of today’s umpteenth tragic shipwreck on Lampedusa. The word shame comes to me: it is a shame!” Francis said on October 3, 2013.
The pope is constantly following these tragedies. This is possibly because being the son of immigrants, he feels he could have been one of those migrants or refugees. This is also what he said during a video conference.
“I, myself, was born in a family of migrants; my father, my grandparents, like many other Italians, left for Argentina and met the fate of those who are left with nothing. I could have very well ended up among today’s ‘discarded’ people. And that’s why I always ask myself, deep in my heart: ‘Why them and not me?’” Francis said on April 26, 2017.
For this reason, he has spoken out on numerous occasions in favor of migrants, refugees and their right to a better life. In January, he took the opportunity during his traditional address to ambassadors from all over the world to remember them.
“Every human being yearns for a better and happier life. The challenge of migration cannot be solved with the logic of violence and discarding people, nor with partial solutions,” Francis said on January 7, 2019.
Not only with words, but also with his gestures. The pope has met volunteers who rescue people in the Mediterranean. In Italy, he has also visited welcome centers for immigrants; and during his visit to Lesbos, in Greece, he went to a refugee camp.
“Let us pray together to God for those who have lost their lives: men, women, children. For their families and all the refugees. Let us unite our efforts so that similar tragedies do not happen again. Only a determined collaboration of all can help prevent them,” Francis said on October 3, 2013.
The pope wanted this collaboration to begin with the Vatican itself. This is why in 2015 he established the Migrants and Refugees Section, which he personally supervises. It is an organization coordinating the Church’s activity in the face of the situation of more than 70 million refugees in the world today.