Pope Francis and Plymouth City of Sanctuary
– ‘It is not just about migrants!’
In his message for this year’s World Day Of Migrants And Refugees (29 September), Pope Francis reminds us that we can become afraid of ‘the other’, locked into individualism, materialism and the culture of wellbeing. However: ‘the presence of migrants and refugees – and of vulnerable people in general – is an invitation to recover some of those essential dimensions of our Christian existence and our humanity that risk being overlooked in a prosperous society. That is why it is not just about migrants.’
Reminding us of Jesus’ words ‘Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid!’ (Mt 14:27), the Holy Father encourages us to make room for encounters with people who are migrants and refugees in order to grow in compassion and humanity as individuals and as a society. One excellent opportunity for doing this is through the City of Sanctuary movement.
The City of Sanctuary network is part of a mainstream, grassroots movement working towards building a culture of welcome, hospitality and inclusiveness across every sphere and sector of society, so that wherever people seeking sanctuary (asylum seekers and refuges) go they will feel safe, find people who welcome them and understand why they are here, and have opportunities to be included in all activities https://cityofsanctuary.org/about/
Plymouth City of Sanctuary had its launch during Refugee Week in June. Exeter, Bournemouth and Poole are already Cities of Sanctuary and Cornwall is a ‘County of Sanctuary’. It is not just geographical communities that have an opportunity to sign pledges and take practical action towards becoming places of sanctuary, however. Organisations such as Universities, businesses, community associations, schools and churches can all become accredited. St Nicholas of Tolentino in the Clifton Diocese was one of the first churches of sanctuary.
Pope Francis concludes:
‘In a word, it is not only the cause of migrants that is at stake; it is not just about them, but about all of us, and about the present and future of the human family. Migrants, especially those who are most vulnerable, help us to read the “signs of the times”. Through them, the Lord is calling us to conversion, to be set free from exclusivity, indifference and the throw-away culture. Through them, the Lord invites us to embrace fully our Christian life and to contribute, each according to his or her proper vocation, to the building up of a world that is more and more in accord with God’s plan.’
For more details about how you can become involved contact:
Mary Conway: firstname.lastname@example.org
Zoe Oldman: email@example.com
Article by: Mary Conway
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