The 107th World Day of Migrants and Refugees is on Sunday, 26th September 2021. This year’s theme is ‘Towards An Ever Wider “We”’ moving the focus from ‘Me’ to ‘We’.
In the Encyclical Fratelli Tutti, Pope Francis expressed a concern and a hope that “Once this health crisis passes, our worst response would be to plunge even more deeply into feverish consumerism and new forms of egotistic self-preservation. God willing, after all this, we will think no longer in terms of ‘them’ and ‘those’, but only ‘us’” (No. 35).
Our common journey
Pope Francis has devoted the Message for this year’s World Day of Migrants and Refugees towards outlining a clear horizon for our common journey in this world. That horizon is already present in God’s creative plan:
“God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply’” (Gen 1:27-28). God created us male and female, different yet complementary, in order to form a “we” destined to become ever more numerous in the succession of generations. God created us in his image, in the image of his own triune being, a communion in diversity”.
When, in disobedience we turned away from God, he in his mercy wished to offer us a path of reconciliation, not as individuals but as a people, a “we”, meant to embrace the entire human family, without exception: “See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them” (Rev 21:3).
Salvation history thus has a “we” in its beginning and a “we” at its end, and at its centre the mystery of Christ, who died and rose so “that they may all be one” (Jn 17:21). The present time, however, shows that this “we” willed by God is broken and fragmented, wounded and disfigured. This becomes all the more evident in moments of great crisis, as is the case with the current pandemic.
Our “we”, both in the wider world and within the Church, is crumbling and cracking due to myopic and aggressive forms of nationalism (cf. Fratelli Tutti, 11) and radical individualism (cf. ibid., 105). And the highest price is being paid by those who most easily become viewed as others: foreigners, migrants, the marginalized, those living on the existential peripheries.
The truth however is that we are all in the same boat and called to work together so that there will be no more walls that separate us, no longer others, but only a single “we”, encompassing all of humanity. Thus I would like to use this World Day to address a twofold appeal, first to the Catholic faithful and then all the men and women of our world, to advance together towards an ever wider “we”.
Holy, beloved Father,
your Son Jesus taught us
that there is great rejoicing in heaven
whenever someone lost is found,
whenever someone excluded, rejected or discarded
is gathered into our “we”,
which thus becomes ever wider.
We ask you to grant the followers of Jesus,
and all people of good will,
the grace to do your will on earth.
Bless each act of welcome and outreach
that draws those in exile
into the “we” of community and of the Church,
so that our earth may truly become
what you yourself created it to be:
the common home of all our brothers and sisters.
Rome, Saint John Lateran, 3 May 2021
Feast of Saints Philip and James, Apostles
You can read the full Message for the 107th World Day of Migrants and Refugees on 26th September 2021 papa-francesco_20210503_world-migrants-day-2021.pdf (vatican.va)