Speaking in Rome on October 29 to a group of Scalabrinian Missionaries, the Pope said a growing number of people were now unwilling to offer help to outsiders, according to The Catholic Register.
The Scalabrinian Missionaries minister to migrants, refugees and displaced persons and the Pope thanked them for their commitment to the biblical mandate of “welcoming the stranger”.
In further remarks, the Pope referred to the caravan of 7,000 migrants, mostly from Guatemala, travelling through Mexico towards the US – and to the fact thatPresident Donald Trump has vowed to turn them back at the US-Mexico border.
"It is true that today there is a surge in being closed to the stranger and there are also many situations of trafficking of foreign people; the foreigner is exploited," he said in a story in The Catholic Register. The Pope said his own experience with migration had been a positive one, describing his home country of Argentina as a, “cocktail of waves of migration", The Catholic Register reports.
He said Argentina, like Europe, had a long history of welcoming people because there had been work and a need for people to do it. "Because migrants build a country, just like they built Europe. Because Europe was not born just like that. Europe was made by many waves of migrants over the centuries,” he said.
Drawing attention to the plight of migrants and refugees has been a defining theme of the Pope’s papacy. On 14 January this year, Pope Francis led a mass at St Peter’s Basilica, for World Day of Migrants and Refugees. During this mass, he warned against rising feelings of fear and hostility towards migrants, according to Crux.
While conceding it was natural for people to be somewhat fearful about the rising number of refugees in the world today, he said the sin came from allowing fear to dictate one’s actions. “The sin is to allow these fears to determine our responses, to limit our choices, to compromise respect and generosity, to feed hostility and rejection The sin is to refuse to encounter the other, the different, the neighbour, when this is in fact a privileged opportunity to encounter the Lord.”