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Francis’ heartfelt appeal to Lesbos: let’s stop this shipwreck of civilization

Francis’ heartfelt appeal to Lesbos: let’s stop this shipwreck of civilization
Francis’ heartfelt appeal to Lesbos: let’s stop this shipwreck of civilization

The Pope returns to the Aegean island after five years to meet the wounded humanity of migrants and launches his cry: do not let the “mare nostrum” become “mare mortuum”, the Mediterranean is a cemetery without tombstones. “Whoever rejects the poor rejects peace”, he says, asking for a new commitment from the international community: the future “will be peaceful only if it is integrated”

Francesca Sabatinelli – Athens

Let’s stop this sinking of civilization, let’s not let the Our sea you become dead sea. Francis launches the painful invocation from Lesbos, an island symbol of the migratory tragedy, of the “most serious humanitarian catastrophe of the Second World War” which had already welcomed him in 2016. Today the Pope again speaks to this wounded humanity, crossing its eyes “full of fear and expectation, eyes that have seen violence and poverty, eyes furrowed by too many tears”.

Before delivering his speech, the Pope crosses the field, walks along the dirt road that passes between the containers that make it up, there is no distance between him and the migrants, touches their hands, smiles, listens to stories and requests, caresses and hugs the children who stretch out their arms, always surrounded by warmth and smiles, but also by the wall and barbed wire that enclose these people, like one of the concentration camps Francis had already talked about in Cyprus.

An overview of the Reception Center

In the lives of migrants, the future of all

Francesco is welcomed in Reception and Identification Centre from the songs of some of the guests of the camp and from the greeting of the president who talks about how Greece has borne the “disproportionate weight of the immigration and refugee crisis, which is affecting the entire Mediterranean, the sea that unites us”, and how to deal with it is “a shared responsibility of Europe”. The Pope’s words immediately denounce, because migration is “a humanitarian crisis that affects everyone”, he invokes the solidarity of the world, because if other global challenges such as the pandemic or climate change see something moving, it is not so with regard to migrations:

Yet there are people at stake, there are human lives at stake! Everyone’s future is at stake, which will only be peaceful if integrated. Only if reconciled with the weakest will the future be prosperous. Because when the poor are rejected, peace is rejected. Closures and nationalisms – history teaches us – lead to disastrous consequences.

Francis therefore asks to follow the teachings of history and to adopt wide-ranging policies:

Do not turn their backs on reality, stop the continuous rebound of responsibility, do not always delegate the migration issue to others, as if no one cared and it was just a useless burden that someone is forced to shoulder!

We awaken hearts deaf to the needs of others

The Pope continues to look at migrants and their eyes which ask not to be forgotten, but which instead are ignored by a humanity that turns away:

In this Sunday, I pray to God to awaken us from forgetfulness for those who suffer, to shake us from the individualism that excludes, to awaken hearts deaf to the needs of others. And I also pray to man, every man: let us overcome the paralysis of fear, the indifference that kills, the cynical disinterest that condemns those on the margins to death with velvet gloves! We oppose at the root the dominant thought, the one that revolves around one’s own ego, one’s own personal egoisms, one’s own national egoisms, which become the measure and criterion of everything.

The images of the Mytilene Center

Sad to use forces and funds to build the walls

On his first visit to Lesbos, five years ago, the Pope was accompanied by the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and by Ieronymos, Archbishop of Athens and of all Greece. Francis remembers those moments, noting how since then “little has changed on the migration issue”, thanks those involved in the care of migrants and the people and authorities of Lesbos who have endured sacrifices and hosted and thanked all of Greece for a welcome “which becomes a problem because many times it does not find ways out for people to go elsewhere”. Greece, however, like other countries, “is still under pressure” and while in Europe there are those who continue to treat the problem as if it did not concern them, migrants live in “conditions unworthy of man!”:

How many hotspots where migrants and refugees live in conditions that are at the limit, without glimpsing solutions on the horizon! Yet respect for people and human rights, especially in the continent that does not fail to promote them in the world, should always be safeguarded, and the dignity of each one should be given priority over everything! It is sad to hear, as solutions, the use of mutual funds to build walls.

“We are in the age of walls and barbed wire”, he continues, but also in the face of fears and insecurities, difficulties and dangers, it is not the barriers that solve things and improve coexistence. We must join forces to “take care of others”, legally and without ignoring the “irrepressible value of the life of every man”. Today, however, in societies, “security and solidarity, local and universal, tradition and openness are opposed in an ideological way”:

Rather than siding with ideas, it can be helpful to start from reality: to stop, to broaden our gaze, to immerse it in the problems of the majority of humanity, of many populations victims of humanitarian emergencies that have not created but only immediately, often after long stories of exploitation still in progress

No to ghettos and propaganda on people’s skin

Rather than instilling the fear of the other in public opinion, we must speak of the “exploitation of the poor, of forgotten and often lavishly financed wars, of economic agreements made on the skin of the people, of hidden maneuvers to smuggle arms and make their trade proliferate” . Francis’ words must be directed to the solution: face “the remote causes, not the poor people who pay the consequences, even being used for political propaganda”. So, instead of stopping the emergencies, “ghettoization” should be overcome and “indispensable integration” is favored. Look at the faces of the children who challenge consciences, then asks, without running away “hastily from the crude images of their little bodies lying inert on the beaches”:

The Mediterranean, which for millennia has united different peoples and distant lands, is becoming a cold cemetery without tombstones. This large basin of water, the cradle of many civilizations, now looks like a mirror of death. Let us not let the mare nostrum turn into a desolating mare mortuum, let this meeting place become the theater of confrontation! Let’s not allow this “sea of ​​memories” to turn into the “sea of ​​forgetfulness”. Please, let’s stop this sinking of civilization!

Faith is compassion, Mary guide us

To despise man means to offend God because he was created in his image. Faith is not indifference that is justified “even in the name of alleged Christian values”, but it is compassion and mercy, which is not “religious ideology, but are concrete Christian roots”. Francis also concludes with his thoughts to all the pregnant mothers who “found death in a hurry and on a journey while carrying life in their womb”, turning to Our Lady, so that she is the one who teaches how to put the reality of man before ideas and ideologies, and to take quick steps towards those who suffer.

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