by Tony Magliano
“The signs of meanness we see around us heighten our fear of ‘the other,’ the unknown, the marginalised, the foreigner,” and thus many migrants seeking a better life end up as recipients of this meanness, said Pope Francis in his recently released 2019 World Day of Migrants and Refugees message.
The Holy Father warned that when we allow fears and doubts to “condition our way of thinking and acting to the point of making us intolerant, closed and perhaps even – racist” – there is a serious problem. For “in this way, fear deprives us of the desire and the ability to encounter the other, the person different from myself; it deprives me of an opportunity to encounter the Lord.”
This wonderful idea of actually encountering the Lord, and all others, is one of Pope Francis’ major themes. He is trying to inspire us to build not personal walls, nor national walls, but instead a “culture of encounter.”
There are many lies that have been spread about migrants and refugees; lies that they are murderers, rapists and criminals of all sorts. But numerous studies point to the contrary.
The vast majority are good decent human beings who pay taxes while enjoying virtually no benefits. And they are working at jobs most citizens will not do – like the back-breaking work of picking our vegetables and fruits, washing dishes and landscaping. Furthermore, they add fresh vitality to our towns, cities and parishes. They need us and we need them! This is what Pope Francis’ “culture of encounter” is all about…