Pope Francis has urged people to be more tolerant of migrants and said that much of the hostility directed towards them is ‘racist’.
He made his comments in a message to commemorate the 105th World Day of Migrants and Refugees.
The Pope said that people were often prejudiced towards migrants and refugees and that such an attitude left them even more marginalised.
He warned that they could be thinking or acting in a racist manner without even realising.
He said: “The signs of meanness we see around us heighten “our fear of ‘the other’, the unknown, the marginalized, the foreigner… We see this today in particular, faced with the arrival of migrants and refugees knocking on our door in search of protection, security and a better future.
“The problem is not that we have doubts and fears. The problem is when they condition our way of thinking and acting to the point of making us intolerant, closed and perhaps even – without realizing it – racist.”
“In this way, fear deprives us of the desire and the ability to encounter the other, the person different from myself; it deprives me of an opportunity to encounter the Lord.”
Pope Francis argued that the arrival of migrants shouldn’t be seen as a threat but as an invitation to “recover some of those essential dimensions of our Christian existence and our humanity that risk being overlooked in a prosperous society”.
He said: “When we show concern for them, we also show concern for ourselves, for everyone; in taking care of them, we all grow; in listening to them, we also give voice to a part of ourselves that we may keep hidden because it is not well regarded nowadays]
“As Jesus himself teaches us, being compassionate means recognising the suffering of the other and taking immediate action to soothe, heal and save.
“To be compassionate means to make room for that tenderness which today’s society so often asks us to repress.”
The Pope also hit out at nations that sell weapons to poor countries and then refuse to help refugees that escape from the regions where the weapons are used.
He said: “Those who pay the price are always the little ones, the poor, the most vulnerable.
“In every political activity, in every program, in every pastoral action we must always put the person at the centre, in his or her many aspects, including the spiritual dimension. And this applies to all people, whose fundamental equality must be recognized.”
The World Day of Migrants and Refugees takes place on 29th September 2019.