By Vatican News English Section
“I have no hands but yours” is the theme of Fr Tom Smolich's message of greetings and hope for this year's Christmas season.
The Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) International Director highlights the challenges faced by his organization due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which he says, "triggered an unprecedented demand for innovative solutions."
In keeping with JRS's mission he says "we were able to adjust our work and ensure that the most vulnerable were not left behind: Through many people’s hands… we were able to stay present in the “new normal” of Covid-19."
Fr Smolich also looks ahead to what will become "the next normal: the post-emergency living with covid" in the hope that there will be enough vaccinations and an improved economic realilty.
However, he adds, there will be challenges:
- Up to 50% of girls will not return to school.
- Donors will be pressured to increase domestic assistance
- Suicide and domestic abuse will return to pre-covid levels
And yet in the midst of all this, he says, in the midst of a global pandemic, there is much reason for hope.
"Our work with refugees over the last forty years, and particularly this year, has shown us that human inguenuity and relisilcance is capable of extraordinary things in the face of adversity,".
"Refugees have told us that they have been through far worse than covid, and their stories of suffering and injustice can be shattering."
Yet, he says, "these women and men are often filled with more hope than I could ever imagine."
Fr Smolich invites us all to "stand hand in hand as a global community, and care for the most vulnerable," saying that this will give us the power "to create a new, more compassionate, next normal in 2021."
Pope Francis, he reveals, sent JRS a letter for its 40th anniversayr, reminding us that we have the vital task "of extending the hand of friendship to those that are lonely, separated from their families and even abandoned, accompanying them, and giving them a voice."
"I have no hands but yours. We have no hands but each others," he concludes, wishing all viewers blessings of health and hope this Christmas season, and into the new normal: the next normal of 2021."