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Refugees from South Sudan arriving in Uganda Refugees from South Sudan arriving in Uganda  (AFP or licensors)

Viewing migrants “with a contemplative gaze”

In his Message for the World Day of Peace (1 January), Pope Francis calls us to look on migrants "with a contemplative gaze"

By Christopher Wells

In his Message for the 51st World Day of Peace, Pope Francis, quoting the Pope emeritus Benedict XVI, says, “the wisdom of faith fosters a contemplative gaze that recognizes all of us ‘belong to one family, migrants and the local populations that welcome them, and all have the same right to enjoy the goods of the earth, whose destination is universal, as the social doctrine of the Church teaches. It is here that solidarity and sharing are founded’.”

A contemplative gaze

This “contemplative gaze,” he says, calls to mind the heavenly Jerusalem, which is open to all, but also our own cities. It is a gaze, the Pope continues, that “sees God dwelling” among us “fostering solidarity, fraternity, and the desire for goodness, truth, and justice – in other words, fulfilling the promise of peace.”

The Holy Father says that when we turn this contemplative gaze to migrants and refugees, we realize that they also bring with them gifts – of “courage, skills, energy and aspiration, as well as the treasures in their own cultures.” Both refugees and those who welcome them are able to enrich one another.

Pursuing policies of welcome

Political and cultural leaders, he said, should also be guided by this contemplative gaze in their discernment, and encouraged "to pursue policies of welcome.” In that discernment, they should keep in mind the needs of each and every member of the human family.

Those who see things in this way, he says, “will be able to recognize the seeds of peace that are already sprouting and nurture their growth. Our cities, often divided and polarized by conflicts regarding the presence of migrants and refugees, will thus turn into workshops of peace.”

30 December 2017, 14:00