Welcoming the Stranger with Pope Francis
No, this is not remote preparation for welcoming Christ in Advent. (But it could be.) This is the second post in a series looking at the ministries of the Eastern Province through the lens of Welcoming the Stranger.
To celebrate the 400th anniversary of the birth of the Vincentian charism the leaders of the international Vincentian Family would like to invite all members of the Vincentian Family around the world to consider how we might better welcome the strangers in our communities by making it the focus of the 400th Anniversary of the Vincentian Charism.
Recently, Pope Francis stressed four verbs – “welcoming, protecting, promoting and integrating migrants and refugees” Granted here he is speaking specifically of Migrants and Refugees. But there is little doubt that what he says applies to all those Jesus calls “the least of his brothers and sisters”. As such his words should be significant for those who walk in the steps of Vincent and Louise. We embrace the mission of Jesus in Luke 4:18 (He has sent me to proclaim good news to the poor) and live by Jesus’ words in Matthew 25:40 (Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers and sisters you do to me”).
It is worthwhile asking what does Pope Francis really mean by each of these verbs “Welcoming, protecting, promoting and integrating migrants and refugees”. Fortunately, we don’t have to guess. He spells it out very specifically
In his message quoted above the ever practical Pope Francis offered the following thoughts.
- Welcoming – “Considering the current situation, welcoming means, above all, offering broader options for migrants and refugees to enter destination countries safely and legally.”
- Protecting – “The second verb – protecting – may be understood as a series of steps intended to defend the rights and dignity of migrants and refugees, independent of their legal status.
- Promoting – “Promoting essentially means a determined effort to ensure that all migrants and refugees – as well as the communities which welcome them – are empowered to achieve their potential as human beings, in all the dimensions which constitute the humanity intended by the Creator.
- Integrating – “The final verb – integrating – concerns the opportunities for intercultural enrichment brought about by the presence of migrants and refugees. Integration is not “an assimilation that leads migrants to suppress or to forget their own cultural identity. Rather, contact with others leads to discovering their ‘secret’, to being open to them in order to welcome their valid aspects and thus contribute to knowing each one better. This is a lengthy process that aims to shape societies and cultures, making them more and more a reflection of the multi-faceted gifts of God to human beings”
In a nutshell, he asks us to welcome and recognize that we are all brothers and sisters, protect their dignity and rights, promote their full human development and welcome their gifts.
What do these words mean to us?
Before we take our virtual tour around the province it might be interesting to think about our own stances.
- Who, if any, do we welcome from outside our circle?
- What are their rights independent of legal and moral status …their needs for protection?
- How do I empower others to achieve their full human potential?
- Do others have a place at the table of our civic and worship communities