“We are all called to create communities willing and open to welcome, promote, accompany and integrate those who knock on our doors,” the Supreme Pontiff preached as he addressed the hundreds of believers who gathered in front of the window of his study in the Apostolic Palace.
The Church’s World Day of Migrants and Refugees was instituted in 1914 by Pope Pius X, in a complex context, when thousands of Italians and citizens from other European nations were emigrating, given the critical situation in their countries.
The United Nations approved the annual celebration of International Refugee Day every June 20, while Migrant Day is marked on December 18.
“Today we celebrate the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, with the theme Free to choose whether to migrate or to stay, to remember that migrating should be a free choice and never the only possible one” which, he said, is “an obligation for many,” while there should be the right not to emigrate to remain in one’s own land.”
Pope Francis pointed out that this issue was at the center of the Mediterranean Meetings, which took place on September 22 and 23 in the French city of Marseille, in whose last session he participated, and where he noted that “migrants do not invade, they seek hospitality.”
In Marseille, the Bishop of Rome called for more European responsibility in the face of the migration crisis, for whom he asked for solidarity and integration.
“It is true that it is not easy to integrate, but the main criterion cannot be one’s own benefit.”
“Those who take refuge in us should not be considered a burden to bear,” the Pontiff stated, in reference to the confrontation with the current complex situation, after the 132,867 migrants arrived by sea in Italy between January 1 and September 22, 2023.