Letter from Rome: Pope Francis steps up his campaign for immigrants

Large outdoor Mass is latest effort to turn world's attention to migrants and refugees
Letter from Rome: Pope Francis steps up his campaign for immigrants

Pope Francis arrives at St. Peter's Square to celebrate a Mass on the occasion of World Day of Migrants and Refugees on Sept. 29 at the Vatican. (Photo by Vincenzo Pinto/AFP)

"Xenophobia and aporophobia today are part of a populist mentality that leaves no sovereignty to the people. Xenophobia destroys the unity of a people, even that of the people of God.”

No one who has been following the activities of Pope Francis these past six or so years will be surprised by this condemnation of distain for foreigners and the poor.

The 82-year-old pope made the remarks during a long conversation with fellow Jesuits during a pastoral visit to the East African country of Mozambique in early September.

He noted that xenophobic people "are tempted by a form of sterilized sociology, where you consider a country as if it were an operating theater, where everything is sterilized: my race, my family, my culture… as if there were the fear of dirtying it, staining it and infecting it." 

'Mixed-race society brings growth and new life'

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Francis spoke out strongly against those who are trying "to stop this very important process of mingling cultures." And he argued that, instead, racial mixing actually brings growth, new life and originality.

"The mixing of identities is what we have experienced, for example, in Latin America," he said.

"There we have everything: Spanish and Indian, the missionary and the conqueror, the Spanish lineage, people's mixed heritage," continued the pope, himself a native Argentine born of Italian immigrants.


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