VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis has defined hostility and rejection of refugees and migrants as sin, encouraging people to overcome their “fully comprehensible” fears that these new arrivals might “disturb the established order” of local communities.
At his invitation, several thousand migrants, refugees and immigrants from 49 countries joined Francis at Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on Sunday, a day the Catholic Church dedicated to the issues and contributions of those who leave homelands in hope of a better life.
New arrivals must “know and respect the laws, the culture and the traditions of the countries that take them in,” he said. Local communities must “open themselves without prejudices to their rich diversity, to understand the hopes and potential of the newly arrived as well as their fears and vulnerabilities.”
“It is not easy to enter into another culture, to put oneself in the shoes of people so different from us, to understand their thoughts and their experiences,” Francis said.
“As a result, we often refuse to encounter the other and raise barriers to defend ourselves. Local communities are sometimes afraid that the newly arrived with disturb the established order, will ‘steal’ something they have long labored to build up.”
Similarly, he said, newcomers also are afraid: “of confrontation, judgment, discrimination, failure.”
“These fears are legitimate, based on doubts that are fully comprehensible from a human point of view,” Francis continued in his homily.