The 15th January 2017 is the World Day of Migrants and Refugees. In his message for 2017, Pope Francis draws attention to the plight of “Child Migrants, the Vulnerable and the Voiceless.” You can read his full message here, or read an except below.
This is also an opportunity and reminder to read and reflect on the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC) Social Justice Statement for 2015-16, “For Those Who’ve Come Across the Seas: Justice for refugees and asylum seekers.” You can read the statement here.
MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS
FOR THE WORLD DAY OF MIGRANTS AND REFUGEES 2017
[15 January 2017]
“Child Migrants, the Vulnerable and the Voiceless”
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me” (Mk 9:37; cf. Mt 18:5; Lk 9:48; Jn 13:20). With these words, the Evangelists remind the Christian community of Jesus’ teaching, which both inspires and challenges. This phrase traces the sure path which leads to God; it begins with the smallest and, through the grace of our Saviour, it grows into the practice of welcoming others. To be welcoming is a necessary condition for making this journey a concrete reality: God made himself one of us. In Jesus God became a child, and the openness of faith to God, which nourishes hope, is expressed in loving proximity to the smallest and the weakest. Charity, faith and hope are all actively present in the spiritual and corporal works of mercy, as we have rediscovered during the recent Extraordinary Jubilee.
But the Evangelists reflect also on the responsibility of the one who works against mercy: “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin: it is better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and be drowned in the depth of the sea” (Mt 18:6; cf. Mk 9:42; Lk 17:2). How can we ignore this severe warning when we see the exploitation carried out by unscrupulous people? Such exploitation harms young girls and boys who are led into prostitution or into the mire of pornography; who are enslaved as child labourers or soldiers; who are caught up in drug trafficking and other forms of criminality; who are forced to flee from conflict and persecution, risking isolation and abandonment.
For this reason, on the occasion of the annual World Day of Migrants and Refugees, I feel compelled to draw attention to the reality of child migrants, especially the ones who are alone. In doing so I ask everyone to take care of the young, who in a threefold way are defenceless: they are children, they are foreigners, and they have no means to protect themselves. I ask everyone to help those who, for various reasons, are forced to live far from their homeland and are separated from their families…