(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis is asking for prayers for those countries who are taking in vast numbers of refugees and displaced persons, so they may find the support and the resources to assist those seeking refuge.
In a video message produced with the assistance of the Jesuit Refugee Service the Pope speaks about his prayer intentions for the month of November:
Jesuit Father Kenneth Gavin, Assistant International Director of JRS, spoke to Vatican Radio's Linda Bordoni about the Pope's prayer intention for November which, he explained, is one of twelve intentions Pope Francis has expressed over this past year, but it is one that is very close to his heart:
Father Gavin says each video puts the focus on major international challenges and on the mission of the Church in respect to those challenges.
In the past months we've seen videos on themes such as interreligious dialogue, respect for women, care for creation: "the focus this month is on refugees and more specifically on solidarity for countries that are hosting countless numbers of refugees".
"Solidarity not only from the international community and countries throughout the world but also from us individually as Christians" he says.
Fr Gavin says we are constantly reminded of the current global refugee crisis that sees more than 65 million people who are either refugees or forcibly displaced from their countries.
He says tragic events such as the sinking of ships in the Mediterranean and the drowning of so many people - almost 4000 just this year on the pathway from Libya to Italy – have become daily news items and recalls the number of times Pope Francis has asked us not to allow the Mediterranean to become a cemetery. But - he says - that is exactly what has happened, as thousands continue to seek refuge, to seek a future for themselves and for their families.
"One of the things I would like to emphasize - and this is something Pope Francis emphasizes again and again - is that we can talk about 65 million people, and that is an overwhelming figure (...) but each one of these people has a face, each one of these people has a story, each one of these people has hopes and dreams for the future" he says.
He expresses joy for having been able to participate in the Pope's video message this month but stresses that theirs (JRS's) is not merely an advocacy position, and points out that this is really a prayer network.
"What we do in prayer is simply place ourselves in the Lord's presence and ask him to shape our hearts and transform our inner being" he says.
Fr Gavin says that only through prayer are hearts and minds transformed and we are able to ask ourselves where do we long to be in relationship to so many people who are without homes, who are looking for care from the international community.
"We are joining the Holy Father in this network of prayer and we are happy to have been able to work together on the video precisely because we know that our own individual minds and hearts have to be transformed.
He speaks of the scene in which a woman walks through a revolving door and realizes that "the other could be me..." - this awareness he says, really can change our lives.
Fr Gavin also speaks of how we are all challenged to overcome that underlying fear of the unknown and of how it can be resolved only with a loving contact with refugees who are exactly like us.
"What we are saying is: 'help us Lord to transform our hearts, help us to come to know refugees simply as our brothers and sisters, as your children. And it is that bond of being members of the same family that will gather us together and enable us to solve the difficult question of how we can best resolve the refugee issues that our world faces in a global fashion".
The refugee question, Father Gavin concludes, is not something that happens elsewhere, it is something that affects our entire world; he says we come to this experience of prayer asking the Lord to transform us, to open the doors of our hearts, to open the doors of our countries, of our cities of our local civic communities to be able to welcome refugees as God's children".