29 July 2016
Pope says Christianity’s authenticity depends on how it treats outsiders
Catholic's credibility is at stake if they don't make a 'concrete response' to humanity's suffering
The Church’s credibility depends on how it welcomes in outcasts, Pope Francis told tens of thousands young people today.
Speaking at a Stations of the Cross liturgy at Krakow’s Blonia Park during World Youth Day Francis urged the gathering to make a “concrete response” to humanity’s suffering.
“In welcoming the outcast who suffer physically and welcoming sinners who suffer spiritually, our credibility as Christians is at stake,” the Pope said.
“Humanity today needs men and women, and especially young people like yourselves, who do not wish to live their lives ‘halfway’, young people ready to spend their lives freely in service to those of their brothers and sisters who are poorest and most vulnerable.”
The Pope urged the young people to see the crucified Christ in “all those who are marginalised” including refugees and migrants.
Taking part in the stations of the cross were two Syrian refugees who had fled Damascus during the country’s protracted civil war. One of them, Rana, had worked in a bank but now lives in Rome while the other, Maha, left his home country overnight after his shop had been burnt down.
Both of them have been helped by the Community of Sant’ Egidio a peace and humanitarian group which helped the Pope bring back 12 Syrian refugees on the papal plane following his visit to the Greek island of Lesbos.
There was also a powerful call to welcome migrants in the reflection at the first station where Jesus is condemned to death, which was written by Bishop Grzegorz Rys, an auxiliary in Krakow: “Lord Jesus, at the beginning of your journey to Jerusalem, and thus to death, you were rejected — they would not welcome you because you were a stranger. Because you belonged to a different nation, professed a different religion.
“All of this, Lord, sounds frighteningly familiar — as if taken straight from our newspapers, reminiscent of the situations on our own streets. We refuse to welcome people who are looking for a better life, who are sometimes just fending for their lives (under the threat of death), who knock on the doors of our countries, churches, and homes. They are strangers, we see in them enemies, we are afraid of their religion, and even their poverty!"
It goes on: “Instead of hospitality they find death: on the coasts of Lampedusa and the Greek islands, in crowded refugee camps. Refusal to accept easily becomes the real death sentence. On them, and so on you, Lord! In the last few years, you have been sentenced to death in the persons of 30,000 refugees. Sentenced — by whom? Who will agree with this sentence?”
The issue of migrants had been point of tension between the Pope and the Polish Government which has shown itself to opposed to refugees. Francis on the other hand has made welcoming new arrivals in Europe and elsewhere a central part of his pontificate.
Saturday is probably the busiest day for Pope Francis at World Youth Day with a packed programme the highlights of which are a visit to the Divine Mercy Shrine where he’ll celebrate Mass for polish priests, seminarians and the religious He is also expected to hear confessions, and have lunch with a group of pilgrims.
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