VATICAN CITY, 17 JAN 2010 (VIS) - Migrants, refugees, religious dialogue with Judaism and Christian unity were the main themes of the Holy Father's remarks at the Angelus, which he prayed at midday today with thousands of faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.
The Pope first turned his attention to the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, which is being celebrated today, affirming that "the Church's presence alongside these people has been constant over time, achieving significant goals at the beginning of last century", in which context he mentioned the work of Blessed Giovanni Battista Scalabrini and of St. Francesca Cabrini.
"Jesus Christ Who as a newborn, because of Herod's threats, underwent the dramatic experience of the refugee, taught His disciples to welcome children with great respect and love", said the Pope, recalling how the focus of this year's World Day is on underage migrants and refugees. "Particular care must be taken to ensure that minors who find themselves living in a foreign country are ensured legal guarantees" he said, "and especially that they are accompanied in the innumerable problems they have to face". Benedict XVI expressed words of encouragement for the communities and organisations that dedicate themselves to looking after children, and encouraged everyone "to show educational and cultural sensitivity when dealing with them, in keeping with the true evangelical spirit".
He then turned to consider the visit he will make this afternoon to the synagogue of Rome, nearly twenty-four years after that made by John Paul II which he described as "historic". This afternoon's visit, he said, will "be a further stage on the path of harmony and friendship between Catholics and Jews". For, "despite the problems and the difficulties, there exists a climate of great respect and dialogue between believers of the two religions, testimony to how relations have matured and to a shared commitment to cherish that which unites us: first and foremost, faith in the one God, but also protection of life and the family, and the aspiration to social justice and peace".
Finally Benedict XVI made mention of the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which begins tomorrow and which every year "represents a time for believers in Christ to revive the ecumenical spirit, to meet and know one another, to pray and reflect together. ... Our announcement of Christ's Gospel will be more credible and effective the more we are united in His love, like true brothers".
After praying the Angelus, the Holy Father mentioned "the dear people of Haiti", also recalling the death of the archbishop and of many priests, religious and seminarians in the recent earthquake. "I follow and encourage the efforts being made by so many charitable organisations, which are assuming the burden of the immense needs of the country, and I pray for the injured, the homeless and for those who have so tragically lost their lives", he said.
And he concluded: "On this World Day of Migrants and Refugees I am happy to greet representatives of various ethnic communities gathered here today. I trust all will participate fully in social and ecclesial life, safeguarding the values of their own cultures of origin".
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