Closed doors, hearts cause suffering to innocent migrants, pope says

IMAGE: CNS/Paul Haring

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Like the people of Israel in exile,
migrants forced from their homeland due to war and persecution are often left
to suffer because of closed hearts and doors, Pope Francis said.

“In these cases one may ask, ‘Where is God? How is it that so much
suffering can come upon men, women and innocent children?'” he said at his general audience
March 16.

Continuing a series of talks dedicated to the Year of Mercy,
the pope focused on two chapters from the Book of Jeremiah (30
and 31), in which the
prophet heralds the return of the exiled people of Israel to their
homeland. The experience of exile left their faith “shaken” and
seeing their country in ruins made it difficult “to believe in the Lord’s
goodness,” the pope

“We, too, can live at times a sort of exile, when loneliness,
suffering and death
can make us think we have been abandoned by God,” the pope said. “How
many of our brothers and sisters are living in this time a real and dramatic
situation of exile far
from their homeland, with the rubble of their homes still in their eyes, with
fear in their hearts and often, unfortunately, pain for the loss of loved ones.”

Newspapers and TV programs in Europe have been saturated with images of
countless refugees stranded after several countries closed off the so-called
Balkan route that allows migration from Turkey through Greece to Northern

“Today’s migrants who suffer out in the open,
without food and cannot enter — they do not feel welcomed,” the pope said. “I
really like to see countries and governments who open their hearts and open
their doors.”

the face of suffering, Pope Francis said, Jeremiah’s prophecy of the
Israelite’s return to their homeland is an affirmation that “God is not
absent” and a reminder that good ultimately triumphs over evil.

“The Lord is
faithful; he does not abandon us in desolation. God loves us with a never-ending
love that even sin cannot
stop. And thanks to him, the hearts of men and women are filled with joy and consolation,”
he said.

The joy
experienced by the people of Israel upon their return home, he added, is the
same joy God wants to give Christians through his forgiveness and is a sign of the consolation
given to those who truly convert.

Pope Francis
noted that Jeremiah’s prophecy was fulfilled by Jesus and the church will commemorate this in the
coming celebration of his resurrection.

“The true
and radical return from exile and the comforting light after the darkness of
the crisis of faith is fulfilled in Easter, in the full and definitive
experience of the love of God, a merciful love that gives joy, peace and
eternal life,” he said.

– – –

Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at

Original Article