He called on Catholics to welcome those coming to their countries with “open arms.”
Dedicating his entire general audience in St. Peter’s Square to Caritas Internationalis’ new “Share the Journey” campaign, the pontiff said Jesus asks Christians to welcome migrants with arms that are open and ready to give an “affectionate and embracing hug” to people escaping war and violent conflict.
In a reflection on the value of hope, Francis said hope is “the push in the heart” of both the migrant who leaves his or her homeland in search of a better life and the person who welcomes them and wants to “encounter them, to know them, to dialogue together.
“Brothers and sisters, do not be afraid to share the journey! Do not be afraid to share hope!”
“Share the Journey” is a two-year effort Caritas (of which SCIAF is a member) is organizing to strengthen relationships between migrants, refugees, and the communities in which they find themselves.
Caritas has also launched a new website, www.sharethejourney.org which has resources for how people can get involved, donate to projects that help migrants, and learn about people who have migrated to different parts of the world.
In his reflection on hope in the general audience, Francis cited the 19th century French poet Charles Péguy, who saw hope as one of the most remarkable things in the world and marveled in one of his poems about poor children who “see how things are going and believe they will go better tomorrow."
“The poet’s image brings to mind the faces of the many people who are transitory in this world … that have fought tenaciously despite the bitterness of a difficult today, full of many trials, but are yet animated by the trust that their children might have a life that is more just and serene,” said the pontiff.
“Hope is not a virtue for people who have full stomachs,” Francis said later. “That’s why the poor are always the first carriers of hope. To come into the world, God needed them: needed Joseph and Mary, needed the shepherds of Bethlehem.”
“On the night of the first Christmas, there was a world that slept … but the humble were preparing in their concealment the revolution of goodness,” he said. “They were all poor, some floating just above the threshold of survival, but were rich in the most precious good that exists in the world, that is, the desire to change.”