Pope Francis called on Catholics to speak out in the face of injustice towards migrants at a Mass commemorating the fifth anniversary of his trip to Lampedusa at St. Peter’s Basilica July 6.
“The Lord promises refreshment and freedom to all the oppressed of our world, but he needs us to fulfill his promise . . . He needs our voice to protest the injustices committed thanks to the silence, often complicit, of so many,” said Pope Francis in his homily at the Mass for Migrants.
According to Francis, the silence is multifaceted. He spoke of “the silence that thinks ‘it has always been done this way’” and “the silence of ‘us’ as opposed to ‘you’” among the “many silences.”
“Before the challenges of contemporary movements of migration, the only reasonable response is one of solidarity and mercy,” the pope continued, calling for migration policies “concerned for the good of one’s own country, while taking into account that of others in an ever more interconnected world.”
The pope stressed that a just migration policy is one at the service of “every person involved,” meaning it is “a policy that provides for solutions that can ensure security, respect for the rights and dignity of all.”
Reflecting on the day’s first reading from the prophet Amos, Pope Francis said, “How many of the poor are trampled on in our day! . . . Among them, I cannot fail to include the migrants and refugees who continue to knock at the door of nations that enjoy greater prosperity.”
Both refugees and their caregivers attended the Mass marking five years since the pope’s visit to Lampedusa, an Italian island 90 miles from the coast of Tunisia. The island serves as the first destination for many African migrants en route to Europe.
Pope Francis prayed for those who died in the attempt to get to Lampedusa by boat from Africa. Over 20,000 people have lost their lives trying to reach the island in the past 30 years.
Part of the pope’s homily was given in Spanish because he said he wanted to speak directly to the people of Spain, who have rescued many migrants from the Mediterranean Sea.
In June, Spain welcomed a boat with more than 600 migrants after the humanitarian vessel had been denied entry in Italy. SOS Mediterranée and Doctors Without Borders operated the boat that had rescued migrants on small vessels in the Mediterranean Sea.
Pope Francis compared Spain’s efforts to the parable of the Good Samaritan, noting that the Good Samaritan did not ask the beaten man along the path for “his reasons for traveling or his documents... he simply decided to care for him and save his life.”
The pope repeated again words he spoke in Lampedusa during his July 2013 visit recalling the victims lost at sea:
‘‘Where is your brother? His blood cries out to me’, says the Lord. This is not a question directed to others; it is a question directed to me, to you, to each of us.”