GIVE love, justice and compassion to the poor and the needy and for the most part you will get the same in return. Treat others, as you yourself would want to be treated. This is the heart of the message of Pope Francis to the United States and the world on his missionary journey to Cuba and the United States of America.
In speaking to the American people in his speeches at the White House and the Congress Pope Francis made it very clear, among other important topics, that migrants and refugees have to be welcomed and treated with the greatest respect and compassion.
In the full awareness that he himself was born of Italian migrants to Argentina he reminded the American people of the gospel value to do to others as you would want them to do to you.(Matt.7:12). It is great challenge for all people in the developed world to reach out and welcome the refugees and migrants.
It was migrants that built most of America. The founding settlers were migrants fleeing religious persecution and bigotry and intolerance in Europe. Millions of Filipinos, Irish, Hispanics and other nationalities built America. Refugees and migrants also built and made Europe strong and developed after the destruction of WWII.
With the present war raging in the Syria, Afghanistan and Iraqi refugees endure the hardship of the badly funded refugees camps in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. The world’s rich nations promised and pledged to provide the money for them to survive in dignity but they failed. They did not deliver the money promised to the UN agency caring for the refugees. So the desperate hopelessness of the camps is now driving the refugees to flee the camps and seek better life and future for their children in Europe.
It is an international legal and a moral obligation to give protection and support to refugees. But in this greedy and selfish throwaway world those obligations are put aside and apathy reigns instead of mercy and compassion, love and care. Pope Francis challenged America to help the refugees and migrants considering there are millions of migrants in America from South American countries in the United States seeking a better life for their children.
All nations in Europe are challenged as Christians and decent human beings to help the hungry tired and needy people fleeing war and poverty oppression and human rights violations. However disgustingly several countries in Eastern Europe are closing their doors.
Pope Francis said; “Our world is facing a refugee crisis of a magnitude not seen since the Second World War. This presents us with great challenges and many hard decisions. On this continent, too, thousands of persons are led to travel north in search of a better life for themselves and for their loved ones, in search of greater opportunities. Is this not what we want for our own children? Their numbers, but rather view must not take them us aback as persons, seeing their faces and listening to their stories, trying to respond as best we can to their situation.
To respond in a way which is always humane, just and fraternal we need to avoid a common temptation nowadays: to discard whatever proves troublesome. Let us remember the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Mt 7:12).
That very same better life that we all wish for our own children should be given to those asking for the same Pope Francis said. He called for an end to hostility towards migrants and also for an end to the death penalty.
We to have to remind ourselves that the root causes of the refugees and migrants is the civil war in Syria, Afghanistan and Iraqi is caused by the greed of the powerful nations who are supporting tyrants and dictators that oppressing and killing their own people for decades. It is the global trend towards more destructive liberal capitalism that is causing the concentration of great wealth in the hands and bank accounts of the few while millions go hungry and barely survive in most de-humanizing conditions.
Pope Francis also had strong words about poverty and the global economy. Before the US congress he reminded the representatives of the richest nation in the world to remember the poor.
“At the same time I would encourage you to keep in mind all those people around us who are trapped in a cycle of poverty. They too need to be given hope. The fight against poverty and hunger must be fought constantly and on many fronts, especially in its causes. I know that many Americans today, as in the past, are working to deal with this problem. It goes without saying that part of this great effort is the creation and distribution of wealth….”
These remarks are softer than his speeches in Santa Cruz, Bolivia last year where he condemned the unfettered runaway liberal capitalism that is intolerable and cause such global conflict and suffering and poverty.
“Let us not be afraid to say it: we want change, real change, structural change,” the pope said, decrying a system that “has imposed the mentality of profit at any price, with no concern for social exclusion or the destruction of nature”.
When we walk in the slums of Metro Manila or any country where the poor are abandoned, where people live less well than pigs and chickens and we see the towering glittering condominiums and skyscrapers of the uncaring rich we see the meaning of the words of Pope Francis. He is the Pope of the Poor and his simple life-style is a powerful message for us to stop and live a simpler less sumptuous extravagant life-style. His message in the United States is for all of us: to care for the weak and the vulnerable, to do justice in all our dealings and to be good Samaritans to the wounded of this world, to bring healing and love where there is none. There is no better way to live than to care for our families, to live for others and ask no reward.