2013-05-24 - Pope Francis received the participants in the Plenary session of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Itinerant People on Friday. Over the course of three days this week, bishops, pastoral workers and experts in various fields from all around the world gathered to discuss a variety of questions related to the theme of “Welcoming Christ in Refugees and forcibly displaced Persons”. In remarks to the participants on Friday, Pope Francis invited those involved in caring for refugees and displaced persons to see their work as a mission of hope. Listen:

“This hope,” said Pope Francis, “is one that expresses itself in the expectations for the future, the desire for friendly relations, the desire [of refugees and displaced persons] to participate in the society that hosts them, including through learning the [local] language, [having or obtaining] access to employment, and education for children.” The Holy Father went on to express admiration for the strength of those, who work gradually to rebuild normal life after the traumatic experience of being uprooted. He invited the whole international community, “To consider the plight of forcibly displaced persons,” calling on them to develop, “effective initiatives and new approaches in order to protect their dignity.”

Pope Francis went on to discuss the central place that the duty to welcome the stranger has in Christian life and mission. “The Church,” he said, “is Mother, and her maternal attention manifests itself with particular tenderness and closeness toward those, who are forced to flee their native countries,” whose lives are charatcerised by the experience of being torn from home.