May 31, 2000
volume 11, no. 101

NEWS for Wednesday, May 31, 2000
Refugees and Circus Performers with Pope

    Migrants, refugees, foreign students, agents and staff involved in tourism and pilgrimages, seafarers, nomads, circus and fairground workers, civil aviation personnel: these are the participants of the "Jubilee of Migrants and Itinerant People," scheduled from June 1-3.

    On Thursday, June 1, the various groups will gather in Roman Churches for catechesis on reconciliation. On Friday, June 2, the Holy Father will preside over a Jubilee Mass; 40,000 people are expected to attend. The largest group will be a contingent of 8,000 of Filipino extraction from all over Europe. The Migrants' Jubilee will end in St. Peter's Square on June 3 in the evening, with a pilgrims' prayer for the Pope.

Strangers and Pilgrims

    Bishop Luigi Petris, director of the Migrants Foundation, said, "In this Jubilee year, there is not only curiosity among migrants, but expectation and hope." Their hope is that attitudes will change toward them. "After all, the Jubilee is a year of redemption and liberation, a year of reconciliation."

    According to the Bishop, the migrants' hopes can be transformed into reality on one condition: "That the Jubilee becomes a 'holy time' for Christian communities, an occasion to examine if their own conduct is in tune with God's plan. If the Christian community were to really live in depth this Jubilee message, its hospitality and esteem would not admit any form of exclusion or marginalization. It's easier to help a stranger than to feel yourself a stranger or brother or sister of a stranger."

    If the Migrants' Jubilee "is not to be reduced to an empty charade, it is essential for each Christian community to realize that it, too, is a stranger and pilgrim in this world, and that it must welcome the outcast and immigrant with esteem. It is essential that it not entrench itself in defending its own worldly securities to the detriment of its brothers of different language and culture." The Jubilee, Bishop Petris concluded, "is an occasion of divine grace to reveal to us what kind of God we believe in: a God who is reduced to being protector of our own vested interests or a God who is truly the Father of us all."

Papal Message

    In his message for the 86th World Migrant and Refugee Day, to be celebrated on June 2, 2000, John Paul II invites developed nations, "prisoners of the insatiable desire to concentrate the available resources in their own hands," to show hospitality towards immigrants, especially during this Jubilee year. "Many countries are making a considerable effort to welcome immigrants, many of whom, after overcoming the difficulties inherent in the phase of adaptation, are well inserted into the host community," the Holy Father says. However, "the lack of understanding that sometimes hits foreigners confirms the urgency of transforming structures and of a change in mentality."

    "The figure of the migrant, the refugee, or the illegal immigrant confers a very concrete meaning on the Jubilee, and is a call for believers to a change of mentality and life," the Pope says. "Working for the unity of the human family means being committed to rejecting any discrimination based on race, culture or religion as being contrary to God's plan." This entails "the promotion of everyone's right to live in their own country in peace, as well as careful vigilance to ensure that in every State, immigration legislation is based on the recognition of the basic rights of the human person." ZE00053004

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