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Pope Francis to the Diplomatic Corps: “overcoming the fear” of migrants

In his address to the representatives of over 180 Countries accredited to the Holy See the Pope strongly appealed to relinquish the “individualistic spirit” and face “the serious migration emergency”. He called upon Europe to preserve its “humanistic spirit”, conveying his “gratitude” to Italy for its “decisive commitment”. "One must never kill in the name of God”, the Pope underlined, reiterating his “No” to extremism and fundamentalism, that raises “a serious issue”. In the year of the Jubilee we must “overcome the cold indifference”.

Migrants – “with their burden of hardships and suffering, every day, often desperately, seeking a place to live in dignity and peace” – are the litmus test of the state of health “of our world, so loved and blessed by God, and yet fraught with so many ills”. It is the heart of the third message of Pope Francis to the Diplomatic Corps, one of the longest of his pontificate, almost one hour-long speech delivered in the Clementine Hall before the representatives of 180 Countries maintaining diplomatic relations with the Holy See, to which must be added the European Union and the Sovereign Order of Malta, as well as the Permanent Mission of the State of Palestine. In Francis’ passionate words, the migrants become the symbols of the “last” of our societies, the victims of that very “individualistic spirit”, a “breeding ground for the development of feelings of indifference towards our neighbours, which leads to viewing them in purely economic terms, to being unconcerned with their humanity, and ultimately to feelings of fear and cynicism”.

Overcoming fear. Thus, “the reflection on the serious migration crisis” we are facing, is necessary not only in order “to discern its causes” and to “identify solutions”, but also to “overcome the inevitable fears associated with this massive and formidable phenomenon, which in 2015 has mainly concerned Europe”, destination of an unprecedented inflow on migrants in terms of numbers, unequalled even at the end of the Second World War. It is precisely to Europe that the Pope has dedicated the central part of his speech, without failing to mention other tragic frontiers, like the border between Mexico and the United States, a destination of the Pope’s forthcoming visit to Mexico. The immense influx of arrivals on the shores of Europe, Francis denounced, “appear to be overburdening the system of reception painstakingly built on the ashes of the Second World War”, that is “an acknowledged beacon of humanity”. A number of questions raised about “the real possibilities of reception”, coupled by fears linked to security, further exacerbated “by the growing threat of international terrorism”, cautioned the Pope, must not “undermine the foundations” of that very “humanistic spirit” which Europe has always loved and defended”. Europe, “aided by its great cultural and religious heritage”, still has the tools “to defend the centrality of the human person and to find the right balance between its twofold moral responsibility to protect the rights of its citizens and to ensure assistance and acceptance to migrants”.

“Gratitude” to Countries “that have responded immediately” to the migration crisis – that should not be left alone – and “particular gratitude to Italy, whose decisive commitment has saved many lives in the Mediterranean, and which continues to accept responsibility on its territory for a massive number of refugees”.

It’s the special tribute of the Pope, for whom there is no place for “autonomous solutions pursued by individual States,” adding that “migrations, more then ever before, will play a pivotal role in the future of our world”.

No to extremism and fundamentalism – “never kill in the name of God” – their defeat, along with the defeat of terrorism, requires, starting from the phenomenon of migration, facing twofold “cultural implications”:

Those accepted “have the responsibility to respect the values, traditions and laws of the community which takes them in” while the latter are called “to acknowledge the beneficial contribution which each immigrant can make to the whole community”.

In fact, “the Bible as a whole recounts the history of a humanity on the move”, human history is made of “countless migrations”. Still today, we hear Rachel weeping, “it is the plea of thousands of people fleeing horrible wars, persecutions, and human rights violations, of those forced to flee in order to escape unspeakable acts of cruelty towards vulnerable persons, such as children and the disabled, or martyrdom solely on account of their religion”. Then as today, the cry of Jacob “is the cry of all those fleeing situations of extreme poverty” and hunger. “However, in many cases these migrants are not included in international systems of protection based on international agreements”: it’s the result of the “culture of waste”.

Going beyond the “emergency response”. It is the direction indicated by Pope Francis to the international community. “Many of the causes of migration could have been addressed some time ago”. Today too, “before it is too late, much could be done to end these tragedies and to build peace”. For example, by seizing the “propitious occasion of the Jubilee so that the cold indifference of so many hearts may be won over by the warmth of mercy”.

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