By Christopher Wells
Pope Francis’ Message for the 51st World Day of Peace – commemorated on January 1st – focuses on the plight of more than 250 million migrants, of whom more than 22 million are refugees.
A Spirit of Compassion
“In a spirit of compassion, let us embrace all those fleeing from war and hunger, or forced by discrimination, persecution, poverty and environmental degradation to leave their homelands,” Pope Francis said.
The Holy Father continued, “It is not enough to open our hearts to the suffering of others. Much more remains to be done before our brothers and sisters can once again live peacefully in a safe home.”
The Virtue of Prudence
Pope Francis called on government leaders to exercise “the virtue of prudence” to find practical means to “welcome, promote, protect, integrate and… permit [migrants] to become a part of a new society.” But he also noted that “leaders have a clear responsibility to their own communities, whose legitimate and harmonious development they must ensure.”
In his message, the Pope noted that many people are forced to flee their homes because of war and other conflicts; and he noted that “there has been no real breakthrough” in building peace.”
However, he said, many people migrate for other reasons, especially because they “desire a better life” for themselves and their families.
An opportunity for peace.
“All indicators available to the international community suggest that global migration will continue for the future,” the Pope said. “Some consider this a threat. For my part, I ask you to view it with confidence as an opportunity to build peace.”