Pope Francis launched a two-year campaign led by the Catholic church’s global confederation of social service agencies to encourage better understanding of the plight facing the world’s record numbers of migrants and refugees Sept. 27. He called on Catholics to welcome those coming to their countries with “arms wide open.”
Dedicating his entire general audience in St. Peter’s Square to Caritas Internationalis’ new “Share the Journey” campaign, the pontiff said Jesus asks Christians to welcome migrants with arms that are open and ready to give an “affectionate and embracing hug” to people escaping war and violent conflict.
In a reflection on the value of hope, Francis said hope is “the push in the heart” of both the migrant who leaves his or her homeland in search of a better life and the person who welcomes them and wants to “encounter them, to know them, to dialogue together.”
“Hope is the desire to share the journey of life, as the Caritas campaign that we inaugurate today reminds us,” said the pope. “Brothers and sisters, do not be afraid to share the journey! Do not be afraid to share hope!”
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Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA), Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and the USCCB are part of a global network of organizations participating in the campaign organized by Caritas Internationalis.
Cardinal Luis Tagle, Archbishop of Manila and president of Caritas Internationalis, said the primary purpose of the campaign is to encourage a return to the study of scripture, “where God always had a soft spot in his heart for the most vulnerable.”
In an interview with Vatican Radio, Tagle said “Through this campaign we hope to correct some negative myths about migrants and migration and also to address some of the roots of forced migration.”
The cardinal pointed out that the campaign of action and awareness-raising will give a human face to migrants, as opposed to seeing them as mere numbers and statistics.
“If we do not address this humanitarian crisis with the help of all governments and communities we will see generations of people with their hopes of a future destroyed,” said Tagle.
As a part of the global collective efforts, the participating U.S. organizations have launched a website https://www.sharejourney.org to provide access to ideas and tools to further participation in the campaign.