Pope Francis consoles migrant-survivor of Tunisia-Libya desert
By Vatican News
The Holy See Press Office noted that on Friday afternoon at Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis met with Mbengue Nyimbilo Crepin (known as Pato), accompanied by Fr. Mattia Ferrari, who serves as chaplain to Mediterranea Saving Humans, also assisting them in many rescue missions. The meeting included a group of migrants, those working for organizations assisting refugees, as well as Cardinal Michael Czerny, Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.
A communiqué recalled that Pato lost his wife and six-year-old daughter in July this year after being stopped and returned to the desert between Libya and Tunisia by Tunisian authorities. Pope Francis listened to his moving and tragic story, while also hearing about the harrowing accounts of the thousands of people who suffer as they attempt to reach Europe.
The group expressed their gratitude for the Pope's welcome to them. In particular, the comunique notes, David from South Sudan engaged in assisting prisoners in detention camps in North Africa, thanked the Pope for his encouragement and for speaking out on behalf of migrants. He said, "You not only offer us a dream, you welcome us."
After hearing their stories, Pope Francis in greeting them spoke to Pato saying that he "prayed so much" for his wife and daughter. He thanked them all for their commitment while recalling that being born in places where one can study and work is a privilege. "Privilege is a debt," he said and "what you do is not something more, it is a duty."
Speaking to the group of migrants, volunteers and staff of rescue operations, Pope Francis imparted his blessing upon all and upheld the work and dedication of those who come to the aid of those on the move, giving care and saving lives.
The Pope's words
“These guys did well,” he said, adding that Christ is present in all those who are suffering.
“Our Christ is close to us, we don't have to go looking for Him far away, He is in every person who suffers this injustice, who dies: so many die…” he said.
The only instance in which it is legitimate to look down on a person, the Pope continued, “is when one kneels to help them get up.”
“All other ways of looking down on a person are not human,” he said.
And noting that “It is more comfortable to stay at home, to do nothing, to live for fun, to live for self-interest,” he said those who choose to go out and serve their brothers and sisters may feel alone, may feel misunderstood.
To them, the Pope said: “Do not be afraid: go forth.”
Finally, before bidding farewell, the Pope prayed for those present, asking the Lord to watch over those who "work on behalf of others," on those unable to arrive, people in detention camps, and "the many, many who are suffering."
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