Pandemic teaches us to care for refugees, creation, Francis says

An article published in the La Croix International reports Pope Francis as saying:  “We can come out of this crisis spiritually and morally stronger” 

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need to protect refugees and migrants and to care for the environment, said Pope Francis. Addressing pilgrims in St. Peters Square after the recitation of the Angelus prayer on June 21, the pope reiterated his appeal for respect and care for displaced persons, while also recalling Saturday’s celebration of World Refugee Day. “The coronavirus crisis has highlighted the need to ensure the necessary protection for refugees, in order to guarantee their dignity and safety” he said.

He invited people to join him in praying “for a renewed and effective commitment, on the part of us all, to the effective protection of every human being, especially those who have been forced to flee as a result of situations of grave danger to them or their families.”

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Statistics show there are some 80 million displaced persons in the world today. This is the highest number ever recorded.

Pope Francis also highlighted “another aspect on which the pandemic has made us reflect is the relationship between man and the environment.” “The lockdown has reduced pollution and revealed once more the beauty of so many places free from traffic and noise,” he said, adding that “we should all be more responsible for looking after the common home” as countries are gradually lifting lockdown restrictions.

Special thanks to doctors, nurses
On Saturday, the pope received in audience religious and civil authorities together with a delegation of doctors, nurses, health care and civil protection workers from the northern Lombardy region, the epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic in Italy.

These are the people he chose to thank for their heroic work in one of the first audiences he has held since Italy and the Vatican were locked down early in March. The sick and their families “found in you, health care workers, almost members of the family, able to unite professional competence with the kind of attention that includes concrete expressions of love,” Francis said. “The patients often felt like they had ‘angels’ alongside them, helping them recover their health and, at the same time, consoling and supporting them and sometimes accompanying them to the threshold of their final encounter with the Lord.”

He told the doctors and nurses present that the world has seen the work they have done in a situation of great trial: “Even if exhausted, you have continued to commit yourselves with professionalism and self-denial. And this generates hope. You have been one of the pillars of the whole country. To you here present, and to your colleagues throughout Italy, go my esteem and my sincere thanks, and I know well that I interpret the feelings of everyone.”

“Now is the moment to treasure all of this positive energy that was invested,” he said. “It can and must bear fruit for the present and the future.” Pope Francis thanked them for their “generous and gratuitous love, which have left an indelible mark on consciences and on the fabric of society, teaching how much need there is for closeness, care and sacrifice to increase fraternity and civil coexistence.”

“We can come out of this crisis spiritually and morally stronger,” he said. “That will depend on the conscience and responsibility of each one of us. Not alone, though; only together and with the grace of God.” “God created us for communion, for fraternity, and now more than ever it has been demonstrated how illusory is the claim of counting only on oneself — it’s illusory — and of making individualism the guiding principle of society,” he said.

However, “Let us be careful,” the pope warned, “because, as soon as the emergency has passed, it is easy to fall back into this illusion. It is easy to quickly forget that we need others, someone to take care of us, to give us courage.”

Reprinted here with permission from La Croix International