Do not give in to fear in helping migrants, pope tells diplomats

Pope Francis greets a Muslim woman as he meets refugee families in Greece April 16. The pope put his hand over his heart and bowed when meeting Muslim women. (CNS/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis greets a Muslim woman as he meets refugee families in Greece April 16. The pope put his hand over his heart and bowed when meeting Muslim women. (CNS/Paul Haring)

By Junno Arocho Esteves
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — While the international community should continue working for peace in war-torn countries, it also must work to help migrants escaping violence and persecution as well as those caring for them, Pope Francis said.

In a speech May 19 to six new ambassadors to the Holy See, the pope said that while fears of terrorism and changing a nation’s culture cannot be dismissed lightly, the concerns must “be addressed in an intelligent and creative way so that the rights and needs of all are respected and upheld.”

“We must not allow misunderstanding and fear to weaken our resolve. Rather, we are called to build a culture of dialogue, one which enables us to view others as valid dialogue partners, to respect the foreigner, the immigrant and people from different cultures as worthy to be listened to,” the pope said.

The presence of the ambassadors, representing Estonia, Malawi, Seychelles, Thailand, Namibia and Zambia, is a reminder of the importance of remaining united “by our common humanity and shared mission” in caring for society and creation, the pope said.

This unity, he stressed, is more crucial than ever when the problems of war, forced migration and economic hardship require “concrete signs of solidarity” with those in need.

The pursuit of peace requires men and women to work together and become “artisans of peace, promoters of social justice and advocates of true respect for our common home,” the pope said.

However, growing fears that the influx of migrants leads to terrorism, economic instability and cultural changes makes the world “appear ever more fragmented and indifferent.”

The plight and sufferings of those fleeing violence must be made known to the world community “so that as they lack the strength or ability to cry out, their voice may be heard in our own,” he stressed.

Pope Francis told the ambassadors that building a culture of dialogue is essential and enriches both migrants — whose traditions must be respected — and the community that receives them — whose culture must be preserved.

“If misunderstanding and fear prevail, something of ourselves dies; our cultures, history and traditions are weakened; and our own peace is compromised. When on the other hand, we foster dialogue and solidarity, both individually and collectively, it is then that we experience the best of humanity and secure an enduring peace for all as intended by our Creator,” the pope said.

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