(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has placed the plight of migrants and refugees at the centre of his 2018 World Day of Peace Message.
Entitled Migrants and Refugees: Men and Women in search of Peace, the Holy Father encourages the faithful and all people of good will to welcome and support these brothers and sisters. He also underlines migration should be viewed as an opportunity to build peace.
One of those presenting this year’s message at the Holy See Press Office on Friday was Jesuit Fr Ismael-Jose Chan Honzaga, an advisor and law Professor at the Atheneum University in Manila.
He spoke to Vatican Radio’s Lydia O’Kane about the message.
Listen to the interview:
Speaking about the choice of this year’s theme Fr Chan Honzaga said, “we all know what’s happening globally and how migration or human movement has always been historically a global phenomenon. But, unfortunately especially in recent years, we’ve also seen how these migrations have become forced migrations.”
Supporting Migrants and Refugees
He goes on to say that the Pope invites people with this message to look at migration and the people “in this particular situation not as threats but as people who need our support, who need also our embracing.”
Fr Chan Honzaga points out that in the last few years migration has been seen as something negative adding “we have become more afraid rather than welcoming” and that’s why the Holy Father has asked in this message that we welcome these brothers and sisters.
The Pope in the early days of his pontificate went to see for himself the plight of those migrants who had made the perilous journey by boat to the island of Lampedusa off the Italian coast and the Jesuit Professor commented that this visit along with others, “awakened his (the Pope’s) heart all the more to how it is actually a crisis on the global stage.”
“The Pope giving this message and issuing this stance I think is a wake-up call, especially to the Catholics and to all people of good will for that matter that our world is a common home and our humanity is a common family…”, he says.
The 2018 World Day of Peace is celebrated on January 1st.