Politicians must help people overcome fear of migrants, pope says

By Cindy Wooden

CITY (CNS) — Politics as service to the common good and the need to create
spaces where citizens and migrants can meet and overcome fear were topics Pope Francis
repeatedly returned to Sept. 30 and Oct. 1.

in Bologna mid-morning Oct. 1, Pope Francis went directly to the “Regional
Hub,” a government-run processing center for migrants, refugees and asylum
seekers. He was given, and wore, a yellow ID bracelet with his name and a
number, just like the migrants and refugees there wear.

four days after he
kicked off Caritas Internationalis’ “Share the Journey” campaign to
encourage Catholics to meet a migrant or refugee and listen to his or her story,
Pope Francis told the 1,000 people at the hub, “Many people don’t know you
and they’re afraid.”

fear “makes them feel they have the right to judge and to do so harshly
and coldly, thinking they see clearly,” the pope said. “But it’s not
true. One sees well only up close, which gives mercy.”

far away, we can say and think anything, like easily happens when they write
terrible phrases and insults on the internet,” the pope said.

he told them, “if we look at our neighbor without mercy, we run the risk
of God looking at us without mercy.”

Francis, after shaking hands with each of the migrants and refugees, said he
saw “only a great desire for friendship and assistance.”

integration of newcomers begins with knowing one another, he said.
“Contact with the other leads to discovering the ‘secret’ that each person
carries and also the gift that he or she represents.”

of you has your own story,” he said, and “this story is something
sacred. We must respect it, accept it and welcome it, and help you move

you know what you are?” the pope asked them. “You are fighters for

many of their peers never made it to Europe’s shores because they died in the
desert or in the sea, he said. “People don’t remember them, but God knows
their names and welcomes them to him. Let’s all take a moment of silence,
remembering them and praying for them.”

Francis had begun his Sunday early, arriving shortly after 8 a.m. in Cesena to
mark the 300th anniversary of
the birth of Pope Pius VI.

the public in the main square of the city of 97,000 people, Pope Francis
focused on the obligations of both citizens and politicians in working together
for the common good.

and nations need “good politics,” which is a form of governance not
enslaved to “individual ambitions or the highhandedness of factions,”
he said. Authentic politics promotes collaboration and requires a balance of
courage and prudence.

people’s involvement, their progressive inclusion,” he said, and it
“does not leave any category at the margins” nor does it “sack
and pollute natural resources — these, in fact, are not a bottomless well but
a gift given by God for us to use with respect and intelligence.”

social teaching of the Catholic Church sees politics, when motivated by concern
for the common good, to be “a noble form of charity,” he said.

a good politician means carrying a cross, he said, “because many times he
or she must set aside personal ideas and take up the initiatives of others,
harmonizing and combining them so that it really will be the common good that
is promoted.”

good politician, he said, must be morally upright, patient and strong enough to
live with the fact that very little will be perfect.

when the politician errs,” he said, he or she should be strong enough to
say, “‘I made a mistake, forgive me.’ And go forward. This is noble.”

pope had spoken about politics and immigration the previous day as well,
meeting at the Vatican with mayors and other members of Italy’s national
association of municipalities.

Francis urged them to oppose “one-way streets of exasperated
individualism” and “the dead ends of corruption,” as well as
cities that move at two speeds: the express lanes of the rich and privileged
and the barely passable alleys of “the poor and unemployed, large
families, immigrants and those who have no one to count on.”

should not be raising walls or towers, he said, but enlarging public squares,
giving each person space and helping them “open to communion with

understand the discomfort many of your citizens feel with the massive arrival
of migrants and refugees,” the pope told the mayors, many of whom lead
cities and towns that have welcomed hundreds of people.

fear, he said, “finds its explanation in an innate fear of the ‘stranger,’
a fear aggravated by the wounds of the economic crisis,” but also by a
lack of careful preparation for welcoming so many people throughout the

discomfort,” the pope said, “can be overcome by offering spaces for
personal encounter and mutual knowledge. So welcome all those initiatives that
promote the culture of encounter, the exchange of artistic and cultural riches
and knowledge about the homes and communities of origin of the new

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