Pope Benedict XVI- Angelus
On Baby Jesus, the Refugee
"The Child ... Must First of All and Always Be Considered a Person"
H.H. Benedict XVI
January 17, 2010
Dear brothers and sisters!
This Sunday we celebrate the World Day of Migrants and Refugees. The
presence of the Church at the side of these persons has been
constant through time, reaching singular heights at the beginning of
the last century: We need only think of Blessed Bishop Giovanni
Battista Scalabrini and St. Frances Cabrini. In my message for this
occasion I called attention to young migrants and refugees. Jesus
Christ, who as a newborn lived through the dramatic experience of
being a refugee because of Herod’s threats, taught his disciples to
welcome children with great respect and love. The child too, in
fact, whatever his nationality or the color of his skin, must first
of all and always be considered a person, the image of God, to
promote and protect against every marginalization and exploitation.
In particular, it is necessary to take every care that minors who
live in a foreign country are protected by legislation and above all
watched over in the countless problems that they must face. While I
strongly encourage the Christian communities and organizations that
are engaged in assisting young migrants and refugees, I exhort
everyone to keep alive an educative and cultural sensitivity toward
them, according to the authentic Gospel spirit.
This afternoon, almost 24 years after the historic visit of
Venerable John Paul II, I will go to the Synagogue of Rome, which is
called the “Great Temple” (Tempio Maggiore), to meet the city’s
Jewish community and take another step on the journey of concord and
friendship between Catholics and Jews. In fact, despite the problems
and difficulties between the believers of the two religions, we
breathe an air of great respect and dialogue, which testifies to how
much the relationships have matured and the common commitment to
value what unites us: faith in the one God, first of all, but also
the protection of the life of the family, the aspiration to social
justice and peace.
Finally, I would like to note that tomorrow the traditional Week of
Prayer for Christian Unity begins. Every year it constitutes, for
believers in Christ, a propitious time to revive the ecumenical
spirit, to meet each other, to get to know each other, to pray and
reflect together. The biblical theme, taken from the Gospel of St.
Luke, echoes the words of the risen Jesus to the apostles: “You are
witnesses of these things” (Luke 24:48). Our proclamation of the
Gospel of Jesus will be much more credible and effective the more
that we are united in his love, as true brothers. Thus, I invite
parishes, religious communities, ecclesial movements and
associations to pray unceasingly, in a special way during
Eucharistic Celebrations, for the complete unity of Christians.
We entrust these three intentions -- our migrant and refugee
brothers, religious dialogue with the Jews and the unity of
Christians -- to the maternal intercession of Mary Most Holy, Mother
of Christ and Mother of the Church.
[After the Angelus the Pope greeted the pilgrims in various
languages. In Italian he said:]
Our thoughts, in these days, turn to the dear people of Haiti, and
[we] raise up sorrowful prayer. The apostolic nuncio, who, thanks be
to God, is unhurt, keeps me continually informed, and thus I heard
of the sad passing of the archbishop, as well as of many priests,
religious and seminarians. I am following and encourage the numerous
charitable organizations, who are taking charge of the immense
necessities of the country. I pray for the injured, the homeless,
and for those who tragically lost their lives.
On this World Day of Migrants and Refugees I am happy to greet the
representatives of different ethnic groups who are present. I hope
all will participate fully in the life of society and the Church,
maintaining the values of their cultures of origin. I also greet the
Brazilians who have come today and who are descendants of immigrants
from Trentino. Thank you for coming!
Finally I offer a special greeting to the participants in the second
edition of the International Festival of the Journeys of the Spirit,
taking place at the Nuova Fiera di Roma, where Holy Mass was just
celebrated by the president of the Pontifical Council for the
Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People.
[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]
[In English, he said:]
To the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims here today, I extend
heartfelt greetings. In particular I welcome the students from the
"Catholic Studies Program" at Loras College, Dubuque in the United
States. In today’s Gospel we hear how Jesus let his glory be seen by
turning water into wine. May all of you discover the transforming
power of his love in your lives, so that his glory may be manifested
today to those around you. Upon all who are present, and upon your
families and loved ones, I invoke God’s abundant blessings.
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