(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has loudly and clearly welcomed migrants, refugees and asylum seekers while expressing his support and gratitude for the Caritas Internationalis' “Share the Journey” campaign.
Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni:
Speaking during his weekly General Audience in St. Peter’s Square on Wednesday, the Pope also had special words of welcome for Caritas representatives gathered to officially launch the two-year campaign aimed at activism and awareness-raising about the plight of migrants,
Listen to migrants' stories
The campaign encourages people to actually meet with migrants and listen to their stories, rather than treat them as mere numbers and statistics imbued with negative stereotypes.
Opening his arms wide in a powerfully symbolic gesture, Francis said “Christ urges us to welcome our brothers and sisters with our arms truly open, ready for a sincere embrace, a loving and enveloping embrace”.
Open arms to embrace
And pointing to the beautiful Bernini colonnade that encircles St. Peter's Square, he said our embrace of migrants should mimic the colonnade “which represents mother Church who embraces everyone by sharing in our common journey”.
The Pope thanked Caritas members and other Church organizations for their constant commitment in favour of migrants saying that they are the sign of an “open, inclusive and welcoming Church.”
Culture of welcome and encounter
The campaign launched on Wednesday aims to challenge negative myths and perceptions regarding migrants through websites featuring the stories of individuals, the true impact of immigration and explanations of Church teaching on the culture of encounter.
Caritas Internationalis is asking Catholics to take public action in support of migrants, posting pro-immigrant messages on social media and participating in programmes where they can meet migrants and refugees.
Public action, new legilsation
In his greetings to all those who work to support and advocate for migrants and refugees the Pope also welcomed a petition which is vying for new legislation on migration "which is more pertinent to the current context."
After the Audience Pope Francis personally greeted a group of some 50 refugees who were in the Square for the occasion.