Vatican City, Oct 20, 2023 / 09:09 am (CNA).
Pope Francis prayed for migrants and refugees with the delegates of the Synod on Synodality just after sunset on Thursday evening.
The simple, 25-minute prayer service took place in a quiet St. Peter’s Square in front of Canadian artist Timothy Schmalz’s “Angels Unawares” sculpture. The bronze statue, installed in the square in 2019, depicts migrants from different times and places in history aboard a boat.
A visibly tired Pope Francis, seated in a wheelchair, was pushed into a closed and mostly empty St. Peter’s Square about 15 minutes early Oct. 19. The 364 delegates and about 90 other synod participants arrived shortly afterward from their meeting in the nearby Paul VI Hall.
The pope arrived by wheelchair at the prayer service at St. Peter’s Square. Credit: Daniel Ibáñez/EWTN/Vatican Pool
The prayer moment was organized as part of the Oct. 4–29 Synod on Synodality at the Vatican and was one of many opportunities for synod members to pray together over the course of the monthlong meeting.
Cardinal Michael Czerny, prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, told journalists earlier in the day that it would be “a beautiful opportunity to prayerfully reenact what we are talking about and trying to appreciate in the synod.”
“The assembly, which is learning how to walk together as a Church, will effectively symbolize walking together with some of the most vulnerable people on our planet: Those who are fleeing, those who are forced to be on the move, those whom we call migrants and refugees,” he said.
#PopeFrancis asks for a moment of silence for people who have lost their lives trying to migrate.
— Hannah Brockhaus (@HannahBrockhaus) October 19, 2023
The prayer opened with a reading from the Gospel of Luke 10:25-37, which includes the parable of the Good Samaritan.
Pope Francis then gave a short reflection, in which he said: “We can never be grateful enough to St. Luke for passing on to us this parable of the Lord.”
“This parable is also at the heart of the encyclical Fratelli Tutti because it is a key, I would say the key, to moving from the closure of a world to an open world, from a world at war to the peace of another world,” he said.
The pope recalled the many difficulties faced by migrants today, including being taken advantage of by traffickers, “kidnapped, imprisoned, exploited, and enslaved,” and “humiliated, tortured, raped.”
“So many of them die without ever reaching their destination,” he said. “The migration routes of our time are filled with men and women who are wounded and left half-dead, our brothers and sisters whose pain cries out before God.”
The pope recalled the many difficulties faced by migrants today, including being taken advantage of by traffickers, “kidnapped, imprisoned, exploited, and enslaved,” and “humiliated, tortured, raped.” Credit: Daniel Ibáñez/EWTN/Vatican Pool
Pope Francis pointed out the need to create safe paths for people to migrate and said “it is also necessary to promote a common and co-responsible approach to the governance of migration flows, which appear set to increase in the coming years.”
The lesson from the parable of the Good Samaritan, he explained, is to have compassion: “Like the Good Samaritan, we are called to be neighbors to all the wayfarers of our time, to save their lives, to heal their wounds, and to soothe their pain.”
“For many, tragically, it is too late, and we are left only to weep over their graves, if they even have a grave, or the Mediterranean ends up being their grave. Yet the Lord knows the face of each of them, and he does not forget it,” he said.
Francis concluded his reflection by asking for a moment of silence to remember those who have lost their lives or become enslaved or exploited along migration routes.
“Like the Good Samaritan, we are called to be neighbors to all the wayfarers of our time, to save their lives, to heal their wounds and to soothe their pain,” said Pope Francis. Credit: Daniel Ibáñez/EWTN/Vatican Pool
Three refugees from Cameroon, Ukraine, and El Salvador and two officials from the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development read the intercessory prayers.
The prayer ended with the recitation of the Our Father and then the pope gave his blessing.