Today, on the first Sunday after Jesus’ baptism, we celebrate the International Day of Migrants and Refugees. There are many initiatives, in which all the 27 thousand Italian parishes are involved. There were 230 million migrants on the planet in 2014. Thousands of them – 3,700 in 2015 alone – died in the Mare Nostrum.
For this 102nd World Day Pope Francis chose the following title: “Migrants and refugees challenge us. The answer of the Gospel of mercy. ” “In our time, migration flows are increasing in every area of our planet: refugees and people fleeing their homelands call out to individuals and communities, challenging our traditional way of life and sometimes upsetting the social and cultural horizon of the cultures they encounter”, the message of the Holy Father recites. “More and more often, victims of violence and poverty suffer because of the barbarity of traffickers of human beings after having left their homelands, along the journey towards the dream of a better future. If, then, they survive abuse and hardship, they have to deal with a reality where suspicions and fears are lurking. Often – the Pope writes – there are no clear and workable regulations for them, which would control hospitality and provide paths of integration in the short and long term, with attention to everyone’s rights and duties. Today more than in the past, the Gospel of mercy shakes our consciences, prevents us from getting used to the suffering of other people, and indicates response pathways rooted in the theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity, which manifest themselves in the works of spiritual and physical mercy”.
The Pope invites all the Christians and citizens of the world to “overcome the emergency logic” and “enable structural programs of hospitality”. The Pope has asked, in fact, to open the doors of our hearts and of those of our common home.
“This island is an open door that welcomes those who come from far away,” were the words the Cardinal Francesco Montenegro, Archbishop of Agrigento and the President of the Migrantes Foundation, pronounced yesterday, opening the Holy Door of Mary’s Sanctuary of Porto Salvo on the Lampedusa Island. “Your hearts are a sign of a possible world, a personally experienced love and transformed day after day, emergency after emergency, in reception and example.” Then he added: “We all know that the island is often forgotten by those who should administer public things. We are the last ones. This might be the reason why we have an even bigger heart for those who are the last ones in the dynamic forces of the world. You suffered because you are neglected by the powerful, you are the ones who open your hearts more and quicker than anyone else, as if in a kind of harmony, because you experience the same conditions and the same suffering yourselves”.
Yesterday in Genoa took place the presentation of the report on international protection in Italy. Contrary to what we often hear, immigration in Italy has a much lower rate than in the rest of Europe. At the top of the ranking of asylum claims, also in relation to population density, there are Northern countries: Sweden and Denmark. Over a million people have asked asylum in the Member States of the Union, 150 thousand of whom passed through Italy. The most significant flow passed through Greece and the Balkans.
“As long as all of us do not feel pilgrims, travel companions who are responsible for each other, we will not live in peace in our common home rich in everyone’s diversity” Father Camillo Ripamonti, president of the Astalli Center for Refugees said – who “remind us dramatically every day with their stories and their difficulties, but above all with their faces, that we continue to act in the world using double standards”.