Pope Francis calls for prayerful and practical response to refugees: 'The Church does not abandon them'


Pope Francis on Sunday drew the attention of the bishops at the Synod to the refugees once more, speaking in St Peter's Square to call for a continued response in prayer and practical work to the refugee crisis.

Drawing on the message of the prophet Jeremiah, which tells of the Lord's promise to deliver his people from captivity, Pope Francis used it to illustrate that these refugees, though in misery, are part of the people of God that He wants to make free:

"I ... compared [the prophecy] with images of refugees marching on the streets of Europe, a dramatic reality of our times.

"God says to them: 'They departed in tears, but I will console them and guide them; I will lead them to brooks of water.'"

The word synod means "to walk together", and the Pope used this definition to illuminate the role the Synod has for the refugees and the wider church. He suggested that God first wants to "walk together with us, to have 'synod' with us."

The father's dream is "to form a people... leading them toward the land of freedom and peace," he added.

The Pope emphasised that this "people" does not exclude the poor and oppressed, but rather it is God's vision to create "a family of families, in which those who struggle are not marginalised and left behind, but manage to keep up with the others, because this people walks along with those who are 'last'."

He said the Lord has taught us to become "poor with the poor, small with the smallest, and ultimately, with those who are 'last.'"

Relating this vision for the Church back to the refugees, he declared that the Church would not abandon those displaced around the globe.

"Even those families who are suffering the most, who have been uprooted from their lands, were present with us in the Synod, in our prayers and in our work, through the voices of some of their pastors present in the Assembly," Francis said.

"These people are in search of dignity, these families looking for peace are still with us, the Church does not abandon them, because they are part of the people that God wants to free from slavery and lead to freedom."