Pope Francis celebrated Mass for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees Sunday with a message that the world is becoming more elitist to the detriment of the poor and the most vulnerable.
“Today’s world is increasingly becoming more elitist and cruel. Developing countries continue to be drained of their best natural and human resources for the benefit of a few privileged markets. Wars only affect some regions of the world, yet weapons of war are produced and sold in other regions which are then unwilling to take in the refugees generated by these conflicts,” Pope Francis said in his homily in St. Peter’s Square Sept. 29.
The pope said that those who pay the price are always “the little ones, the poor, the most vulnerable, who are prevented from sitting at the table and are left with the ‘crumbs’ of the banquet.”
“As Christians, we cannot be indifferent to the tragedy of old and new forms of poverty, to the bleak isolation, contempt and discrimination experienced by those who do not belong to ‘our’ group,” Pope Francis said.
The Lord calls us to practice charity toward all those in existential peripheries, who together with migrants and refugees, are the victims of “the throwaway culture,” he said.
“Loving our neighbor means feeling compassion for the sufferings of our brothers and sisters, drawing close to them, touching their sores and sharing their stories, and thus manifesting concretely God’s tender love for them. This means being a neighbor to all those who are mistreated and abandoned on the streets of our world, soothing their wounds and bringing them to the nearest shelter, where their needs can be met,” Pope Francis explained.
“Along with the exercise of charity, the Lord also invites us to think about the injustices that cause exclusion – and in particular the privileges of the few, who, in order to preserve their status, act to the detriment of the many,” he said.
In his Angelus address immediately following the Mass, Pope Francis unveiled a new bronze sculpture in St. Peter’s Square called “Angels Unawares.” The sculpture by Canadian artist Timothy Schmaltz depicts migrants and refugees throughout history huddled together on a raft.
“I wanted this artistic work here in St. Peter’s Square to remind everyone of the evangelical challenge of hospitality,” Pope Francis said.
“The Lord has a particular concern for foreigners, widows and orphans, for they are without rights, excluded and marginalized,” he said in his homily. “We must pay special attention to the strangers in our midst as well as to widows, orphans and all the outcasts of our time.”