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The Pope cared. Do we?

2015-08-20 07:28

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In July 2013, for his first visit outside Rome, Pope Francis chose the island of Lampedusa, targeted destination for hundreds of thousands of would-be migrants from North Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

Migrants often outnumber Lampedusa’s native population of six thousand. By the time they reach Lampedusa, most are exhausted, dehydrated, hungry, thirsty and penniless. Many have paid exorbitant fees to people traffickers for a seat in an overcrowded, overloaded and probably unseaworthy boat which risks the lives of its passengers and offers little or no space for luggage. Whether people are economic migrants or genuine refugees, they are vulnerable to exploitation. Even on the day of Pope Francis’ visit, a few hours before his arrival, a boat carrying 166 people from Mali landed in Lampedusa. The following day, another 340 reached the island’s shores.

The Pope’s visit to Lampedusa included laying a wreath at sea. The cross that he carried, the chalice which he used for Mass and the lectern from which he later preached were constructed from wood rescued from shipwrecks.

During his homily, the Pope declared, “Immigrants who died at sea, from that boat that, instead of being a way of hope was a way of death... unfortunately repeated so many times… These, our brothers and sisters, seek to leave difficult situations in order to find a little serenity and peace. They seek a better place for themselves and for their families – but they found death. How many times to those who seek this not find understanding, do not find welcome, do not find solidarity!"

Pope Francis added, “We have fallen into the hypocritical attitude of the priest and of the servant of the altar that Jesus speaks about in the parable of the Good Samaritan: We look upon the brother half-dead by the roadside, perhaps we think ‘poor guy’, and we continue on our way. It’s none of our business and we feel fine with this. We feel at peace with this, we feel fine! The culture of well-being, that makes us think of ourselves, that makes us insensitive to the cries of others, that makes us live in soap bubbles, that are beautiful but are nothing, are illusions of futility, of the transient, that brings indifference to others, that brings even the globalization of indifference. In this world of globalization we have fallen into a globalization of indifference. We are accustomed to the suffering of others. It doesn’t concern us: it’s none of our business."

Pope Francis talked to some of the migrants at Lampedusa. How often do we speak to those who come to Britain?  The Pope cared. Do we?

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