Our warm welcome to others can help save the world

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Pope Francis visits migrants at the John XXIII Peace Lab Center during his latest event in Malta, and warns humanity that we are facing a sinking civilization, which threatens not only migrants but all of us, if we don’t. we drive with kindness and humanity.

April 04, 2022

Franciscan P. Dionysius Mintoff, founder of the Pope John XXIII Peace Lab, with Pope Francis


By Thaddeus Jones
On Sunday afternoon, Pope Francis visited Malta’s “Pope John XIII Peace Laboratory”, founded in 1971 by Franciscan friar Dionysius Mintoff, following an appeal by Pope John XXIII, who called the world to reflect on peace.

The Peace Lab runs an extensive adult education program and helps people from all backgrounds and cultures to show solidarity with those in need and to provide an oasis where people can meet others with openness and heat.

The meeting with Pope Francis began with introductory words from the 91-year-old founder, Father Mintoff, who explained how the Pope’s visit helps strengthen the faith that inspires their work to help those fleeing war and famine.

Two of the migrants present, Daniel and Siriman, shared their difficult personal stories of fleeing their home countries and the deadly challenges they faced along the way.

Daniel, from Nigeria, had presented the pope with a painting he made of his shipwreck as he crossed the Mediterranean Sea, where some of his friends died.

Pope Francis thanked them, also on behalf of the many other people forced to leave their homeland in search of safe refuge, for opening their hearts and sharing their lives.

Repeating what he said on his return to Lesvos in December 2021, the pope said: “I am here…to assure you of my closeness…I am here to see your faces and look you in the eye. “, assuring them that he always remembers them and keeps their distress in his heart and prayers.

Continuing a tradition of “unusual kindness”
Recalling the “unusual benevolence” with which the Maltese welcomed the Apostle Paul and his companions when they were shipwrecked in Malta – which also provided the theme for this Apostolic Journey – the Pope expressed his hope that Malta could continue in this ancient tradition in the way it treats those who arrive on its shores today.

He recalled the thousands of men, women and children fleeing war and poverty and risking their lives crossing the Mediterranean for safer shores, so many of whom unfortunately ended in tragedy.

Stop the “sinking of civilization”
The pope warned that we risk a “shipwreck of civilization” with this reality, but that “by conducting ourselves with kindness and humanity” we can keep the ship afloat.

In practice, he said, that means putting yourself in the shoes of those fleeing their home countries, trying to understand their life story, knowing that it could be us – or our sons and daughters – and do whatever we can to help.

He recalled at this precise moment that there could be boats heading our way, brothers and sisters seeking safety, again mentioning those who have been forced to flee Ukraine, but also calling on us to remembering the many suffering people in Asia, Africa and the Americas.

All, he said, are in his thoughts and prayers, especially the 90 migrants who have perished off the coast of Libya in recent days.

Listening and solidarity
Pope Francis referenced how Daniel and Siriman described their sense of being uprooted, which leaves scars over time and takes time to heal. But experiences of human benevolence can act like medicine, just like meeting other people who are open to listening and accompanying them, whether they are their own companions or those who welcome and assist them. .

This is why, he added, reception centers for migrants can play an important role, allowing “human goodness” to express itself and experience itself, and for Christians, it is is about faithfulness to the gospel of Jesus, who said, “I was a stranger and you welcomed Me. All of this takes time and patience,” the pope said.

“It takes time, immense patience, and above all a love made up of closeness, tenderness and compassion, like God’s love for us.”

Welcome and fraternity agents
The Pope added that his dream is that the migrants themselves can in turn “become witnesses to those human values ​​essential to a dignified and fraternal life”, values ​​which are dear to them and which are part of their roots.

Once their own suffering has been appeased, they can share with others their inner richness, “a precious heritage of humanity”.

“This is the way! The way of brotherhood and social friendship. This is the future of the human family in a globalized world. I am happy to be able to share this dream with you today, just like you, in your testimonials, have shared your dreams with me!

The Fires of Brotherhood
In conclusion, the Pope encouraged everyone not to get discouraged thinking that nothing can be done, but to move forward promoting the dignity of all people.

“Let us light fires of fraternity around which people can warm up, get up and find hope. Let’s strengthen the fabric of social friendship and the culture of encounter, starting from places like this. They may not be perfect, but they are truly “laboratories of peace”.

In conclusion, the Pope and the others present lit a candle in front of the image of Our Lady.

Pope Francis described the action as a very simple but significant gesture, noting that in Christian tradition the little flame is a symbol of faith in God, a symbol of hope, “a hope that Mary, our Mother, keeps alive even in the most difficult times.”

He assured them all of his prayers and solidarity, and concluded by reading the following prayer:

Lord God, Creator of the universe,
source of all freedom and peace,
love and brotherhood,
you created us in your image,
breathed into us the breath of life
and make us participants in your own life of communion.

Even when we broke your covenant
you did not abandon us to the power of death,
but continue, in your infinite mercy,
to remind us,
live like your sons and daughters.

Pour out your Holy Spirit on us
and grant us a new heart,
sensitive to pleas, often silent,
of our brothers and sisters who have lost
the warmth of their homes and their homeland.

grant us to give them hope
by our welcome and our demonstration of humanity.

Make us instruments of peace
and practical, brotherly love.

Free us from fear and prejudice;
allow us to share their suffering
and fight injustice together,
for the growth of a world in which each person
is respected in its inviolable dignity,
the dignity you, O Father, have bestowed on us
and your Son has consecrated forever.

Amen.Vatican News

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