Pope Francis launched a new two-year Vatican campaign to rally support for migrants and refugees on the same day that the Trump administration announced it would cap refugee admissions at 45,000 for 2018, a historic low.
The pope reflected on the Caritas Internationalis “Share the Journey” campaign at his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square today, stressing “the importance of combating all that threatens our hope.”
“As the ancient story of Pandora’s box teaches us, hope remains as the treasure enabling mankind to face with trust in God’s providence every evil let loose in this world,” Pope Francis said. “In our own day, hope motivates so many of our brothers and sisters forced to leave their homes in search of a better life, but also those who welcome them, ‘sharing the journey’ with them and trusting in a better tomorrow.”
The pontiff, who welcomed dozens of migrants and refugees at the audience along with those who aid refugees, added that “hope is especially the virtue of the poor.”
“As the mystery of Christmas teaches us, God came into this world among the poor, to bring the good news of our salvation. Hope is also the virtue of the young, who deserve not to be robbed of it by an often soulless and materialist society,” he said. “Hope’s greatest enemy is spiritual emptiness, the ‘noon-day devil’ that tempts us to stop fighting and to yield to discouragement. Let us ask the Lord for the grace to hope more firmly in his promises, confident that his victory over the world will fill our hearts with joy as we face the future and all that it has in store for us.”
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholic Relief Services and Catholic Charities are sponsoring the “Share the Journey” campaign in America.
“This campaign is both spiritual and practical,” said USCCB president Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, who is president of the USCCB. “The Pope is asking us to pray and reflect and to use the awareness we build to take action, both personally and publicly. To our church, this campaign is an embodiment of the biblical command to love our neighbor.”
From Oct. 7 to Oct. 14, Catholic parishes across the country will hold masses, prayer vigils and events geared toward refugee awareness and acceptance.
“The Holy Father wants us to feel this personally,” Catholic Charities USA president and CEO Sister Donna Markham, OP, PhD, said in a statement. “Each of us must work to encounter the migrants and refugees who are all around us. All too often, they seem invisible to us. We need to hear their stories, literally share their journeys, and see them as our brothers and sisters.”
A senior administration official told State Department reporters today that the regional breakdown for 2018 admissions will Africa, 19,000; East Asia, 5,000; Europe and Central Asia, 2,000; Latin America and the Caribbean, 1,500; Near East South Asia, 17,000.
“State and DHS have determined the ceiling of 45,000 refugees is consistent with our foreign policy goals and operational capacity in light of additional security vetting procedures that we are implementing, as well as the domestic asylum backlogs that DHS is currently facing,” the official said.