Pope: welcoming refugees points way forward for future

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Pope Francis greeted a group of refugees and their families who arrived in Europe through “Humanitarian Corridors,” as well as representatives of receiving institutions and communities Saturday morning in the Vatican.

The initiative is organized by the Community of Sant’Egidio, the Federation of Evangelical Churches and the Waldensian Table, the Catholic Church in Italy, with the support of various governments in Europe.

Corridors provide humane way to safety for migrants

Established in 2016 in response to the increasingly deadly situation in the Mediterranean Sea, where hundreds have tragically died in attempts to cross to safety, the corridors aim to avoid perilous journeys, stop exploitation by human traffickers, and grant people a “legal and safe entry” into Italy and other countries through the necessary security controls by national authorities.

So far, the scheme has allowed over 5,300 refugees to enter Europe, in addition to over the 1,800 Ukrainian citizens hosted by Sant’Egidio in various European countries.

In his address, Pope Francis said the corridors allow the hundreds of people escaping gravely dangerous situations in their countries to arrive safely, legally, and with dignity in their host countries, breaking down “the walls of indifference that have shattered the hopes of so many people who have to wait for years in painful and unbearable situations.”

Corridors offer example of future for Europe

Although the Humanitarian Corridors provide a practical, viable avenue to avoid possible danger, the Pope continued, much effort is still needed to expand the network and open more legal migration routes.

Safe, orderly, regular and sustainable migration, Pope Francis stated, is always in the best interest of all countries: without this recognition, fear risks taking hold, erasing people’s future and justifying barriers.

Welcoming those most in need points towards “a way forward for Europe,” the Pope said, to “avoid its remaining frozen, fearful, and lacking vision for the future.”

“Withdrawing into oneself or into one’s culture is never the right way to give new hope.”

Importance of integration

Another important step towards helping migrants and refugees is integration. Facing already difficulties from the journey, the next difficult step is integration, Pope Francis continued, where people should be accompanied from start to finish: “It is important to expend even greater attention and creativity in enabling those granted the opportunity to come to Europe to understand and appreciate what they will encounter here.”

hose present who have, with great generosity, opened their “hearts and homes” were thanked by the Pope for their support in the integration process.

Their service in welcoming those in need represents “a beautiful face of Europe” that is open to the future.

“I thank you most heartily: you represent a beautiful face of Europe, one that is open, not without some sacrifice, to the future.”

Acknowledging a group of Ukrainian refugees present at the audience, the Pope reiterated his commitment to peace, saying he is “hoping for peace and praying for peace,” in their country and other countries affected by war.

Corridors as a sign of Christian unity

The initiative of humanitarian corridors, Pope Francis continued, is “an impressive sign of unity between brothers and sisters who share their faith in Christ.”

The Pope then greeted refugees who already took the steps to arrive and integrate themselves via humanitarian corridors, learning new languages, societies, and cultures. Their presence, the Pope noted, is a “blessing in the countries in which you live, and whose laws and culture you have learned to respect,”

In return, they have too learned how to give, engaging in serving others in need.

“Your good example and industriousness help to dispel fear and apprehension about foreigners.”

The Pope concluded his address by reflecting on the passage from Jesus: “I was a stranger and you welcomed me,” saying it is a path we must all take together with courage and perseverance to work together towards a brighter future.

Source: vaticannews.va