As the midterm elections loom several days away, Pope Francis has expressed his support for the 14,000 people in the migrant caravan headed for the United States southern border.
According to Vatican documents, Pope Francis expressed his support for the caravan on Monday while addressing the participants of the XV General Chapter of the Congregation of the Missionaries of San Carlo.
Much of the Holy Father’s speech focused on the virtue of welcoming the stranger and how nations need to foster this virtue or risk their own demise.
“It’s easier to welcome a stranger than to be welcomed, and you have to do both,” said Pope Francis. “You must teach, help welcome the stranger, and give all the possibilities to the nations that have everything or enough to use these four words that you have said. How to welcome a foreigner.”
Pope Francis noted how he was such a stranger with his family in Argentina, which he held up as an example. “Argentina has this experience of welcoming, because there was work and it was also needed. And Argentina — for my experience — is a cocktail of migratory waves,” he said.
Such a policy, Pope Francis says, is a social good because migrants “build a country.”
“Migrants build a country; how they built Europe,” Pope Francis said. “Because Europe was not born this way, Europe has been made by many waves of migration over the centuries.”
Should a nation reject migrants out of its own “well-being,” Pope Francis said that would be “suicidal,” noting Europe’s demographic winter which is the result of a secularized continent that largely rejects Church teaching on sexuality.
He later held up the “caravan traveling from Honduras to the United States’ as an example of migrants moving together in a “community.” He does not acknowledge that such a migratory wave reduces individuals into a crowd, making it difficult for government agencies to properly vet the people flowing into the country. It’s as if the sight of a person moving as just another member in a faceless crowd rather than a divine individual is something beautiful to behold.
Another phenomenon of migrants – let’s think of the caravan that goes from Honduras to the United States – is to pile up . The migrant usually tries to go in groups. Sometimes it has to go alone, but it is normal to pile up, because we feel stronger in migration. And there is the community. In football there is the possibility of a ‘free agent,’ that can move according to the opportunities, but from you there is no possibility, the ‘free agent’ from you fail. Always the community. Always in the community, because your vocation is precisely for migrants who pile up. Feel migrants. Feel, yes, migrants facing needs, migrants before the Lord, migrants among you. And for this the need to pile up.
As of now, the caravan that began in Honduras has swollen to 14,000 people, some of whom are gang members and criminals. The U.S. military will deploy 800 soldiers to meet the caravan should the people “pile up” at the southern border.