Better to welcome refugees than just ‘tolerate’, Archbishop says

Rather than merely ‘tolerating and putting up’ with the presence of migrants and refugees in our society, we should welcome and involve them in the building of our common home, Archbishop Charles Scicluna said on Sunday.

The Mass which was held at Balzan Parish Church where 118 refugees live in the same community marked the 106th World Day of Migrants and Refugees.

Migrants and refugees living in Malta and who are being assisted by the Church’s Emigrants Commission attended the mass. The Emigrants Commission assists around 400 individuals by offering them accommodation and by working tirelessly to ensure that they are welcomed, assisted, and integrated into society.

During his homily, Archbishop Scicluna highlighted the need to welcome migrants and refugees within our communities.

When Jesus was born, Mary and Joseph had to flee to Egypt, Mgr Scicluna reminded the faithful, adding that similarly nowadays people have to flee their countries.

He noted that many a time people are using hurtful words towards these brothers and sisters of ours, as he insisted that more collaboration was needed.

Archbishop Scicluna observed that in the context of the global pandemic people are more tempted to limit themselves to their communities. He remarked that more solidarity is required at a European level saying that local political leaders have been doing their utmost to achieve this. Migration cannot be dealt with by states alone, but requires a European response, he underlined, adding that one cannot address the issue from afar.

During his homily, Archbishop Scicluna referred to Pope Francis’ message marking the World Day of Migrants and Refugees.

Displaced people offer us this opportunity to meet the Lord, “even though our eyes find it hard to recognize him: his clothing in tatters, his feet dirty, his face disfigured, his body wounded, his tongue unable to speak our language,” Archbishop Scicluna said, quoting the Holy Father.

He reminded the faithful that we are called to respond to this pastoral challenge with the four verbs indicated in Pope Francis’ message for this day in 2018. These are welcome, protect, promote and integrate. Pope Francis added another six pairs of verbs that deal with very practical actions and are linked together in a relationship of cause and effect.

The six pairs of verbs are: “to know in order to understand”, “to be close in order to serve”, “to be reconciled, we need to listen”, “sharing is necessary in order to grow”, “to be involved in order to promote”, and “to cooperate in order to build”.