Pope Francis: Migrants challenge us as Christians

Pope Francis urges Bishops from the border regions of Colombia and Costa Rica, along with the Bishops of Panama, to “eradicate the indifference” toward migrants and refugees passing through the Darien Gap between Panama and Colombia.

Mar 21, 2024

Haitian migrants making their way through the Darien jungle (AFP or licensors)

By Christopher Wells
In response to the disciples' question to Jesus, “Where do you want us to prepare the Passover meal for you?” Bishops from the border of Colombia and Costa Rica and the Bishops of Panama have responded, “In the Darien [region], with our migrant brothers and sisters.”

It is there, Pope Francis said in a message to the Bishops released on Wednesday, “that they are waiting for us, on the shore of a sea of tears and death that unites men and women, adults and children from the most diverse latitudes.” 

The bishops from the three countries have met in Panama for an encounter entitled “Easter with our migrant brothers and sisters," focusing especially on the Church’s pastoral outreach to the hundreds of thousands of migrants who attempt to cross the treacherous “Darien Gap” that connects Central and South America.

In 2023, more than 500,000 migrants are estimated to have crossed the jungle corridor between Colombia and Panama. More are expected to make the dangerous journey in 2024.

In his message to the Bishops, Pope Francis highlighted the efforts of the Church in Latin America and the Caribbean, which he said has always sought to be a Church without borders, the Mother of all.”

A challenge to Christians
“Every refugee and migrant who leaves his or her homeland challenges us as Christians,” the Pope said. He lamented the “indifference that bloodies the Darien,” which exists alongside the “hospitable fraternity” in our cities.

“I encourage you to work tirelessly to eradicate this indifference,” Pope Francis said, “so that when a migrant brother or sister arrives, they will find in the Church a place where they will not feel judged, but welcomed; where hunger and thirst can be quenched, and hope revived.”

The Holy Father urged the Bishops not to neglect ministry to migrants, while calling on them to work towards the long-term solution of the “right not to migrate” in cooperation with international organizations. 

Pope Francis insisted on the need for pastors and pastoral workers who are ready to go beyond established practices to be close to migrants, “because they are aware that only by walking in the rhythm of God with His holy people will it be possible to cross the barriers of the conventional, leading the Church, together with our migrant brothers and sisters, along the paths of hope.”

Concluding his message, Pope Francis insisted, “We form a Church ready to welcome, protect, promote, and integrate all, without distinction and without leaving anyone out, recognizing the right of each one to offer their contribution, through work and personal commitment, for the good of all and the protection of our common home.”--Vatican News

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