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Pope at 'Angelus' calls attention to plight of migrants and refugees



January 20, 2014 - Pope Francis on Sunday drew attention to the plight of the world’s migrants and refugees denouncing human traffickers who want to ‘enslave’ them. "Let us think of the many migrants, the many refugees and their suffering," the Pope said after his weekly midday ‘Angelus’ prayer in Rome’s St. Peter’s Square, on the day the Catholic Church observed the 100th World Day of Migrants and Refugees. "Their lives are often without jobs and without documents and with a lot of pain," the Pope told thousands of faithful gathered in the square below his studio window. “I’d like to thank those who work with migrants in welcoming and accompanying them in their difficult moments, in order to defend them from those that Blessed Scalabrini described as ‘merchants of human flesh, who want to enslave migrants,” said the 77-year-old Pope, himself a son of Italian immigrants in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Pope Francis particularly thanked the Scalabrinian missionaries who he said “become migrants among migrants’. He assured migrants and refugees they were particularly close to the heart of the Church. “Do not lose hope for a better future!” the Holy Father urged, wishing they find peace in the host countries and be able to maintain the values of their culture of origin. The Pope then invited all to join him in praying a ‘Hail Mary’ for the many migrants and refugees who are suffering.
The Pope who assumed the name of Francis, after Italy’s popular saint from Assisi, known for his humility, simplicity and poverty, has shown a special preference for the downtrodden and marginalized of society. He dedicated his first trip outside Rome in July to the Italian island of Lampedusa, where tens of thousands of asylum-seekers arrive from North Africa every year. In August, Pope Francis has released his message for the 2014 World Day of Migrants and Refugees on the theme, “Migrants and Refugees: toward a better world.” In the message he said, “A change of attitude towards migrants and refugees is needed on the part of everyone, moving away from attitudes of defensiveness and fear, indifference and marginalization – all typical of a throwaway culture – towards attitudes based on a culture of encounter, the only culture capable of building a better, more just and fraternal world.” Instituted by Pope Pius X in 1914, the World Day of Migrants and Refugees is celebrated in January each year.
Before the ‘Angelus’ the Pope reflected on Sunday’s Gospel about John the Baptist proclaiming Jesus as the Lamb of God. He explained that being disciples of the Lamb entails "replacing malice with innocence, force with love, pride with humility, prestige with service". Explaining the origin of the verb ‘to take away’, he said, means to take upon oneself, and Jesus frees us from bondage by taking upon Himself the sins of mankind, through love. Sinless and without the need of Baptism, Jesus stands in line with sinners, showing there is no other way to overcome evil and sin except through love that goes to the extent of giving of one’s life for others.




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