"The Particularly Difficult Moments of Life"
Some of the wires are reporting that Benedict XVI avoided any mention of the Polish situation in his talk at this morning's Angelus. While this is true in the sense that the controversy wasn't explicitly mentioned, in his typically understated style Ratzinger did seem to show something of his hand on it... more on that in a second.
The "meat" of the talk focused on migration on this, the Holy See's 93rd annual World Day of Migrants and Refugees.
Given the conflagration in the States over the last year on the question of immigration, the Pope's insights are especially useful.
The Pontiff mentioned the international scope of migration. “According to United Nations estimates, there are almost 200 million migrants, about 9 million refugees and 2 million international students;” to these we must add, “a great number of brothers and sisters who are internally displaced people or irregular”, and especially remember that to each “corresponds, one way or another, a family”.Following the noonday prayer, in keeping with custom Benedict greeted the pilgrims present in French, English, German, Spanish, and Polish, wishing them a pleasant Sunday and offering a brief sketch of his Italian catechesis in the respective languages.
For Benedict XVI we must first look at this phenomenon in religious terms and remember the Holy Family, “icon of all families, because it reflects the image of God that is held in the heart of each human family even when it is weakened and sometimes scarred by life’s experiences.”
“In this misfortune experienced by the Family of Nazareth [. . .] we can catch a glimpse of the painful condition in which all migrants live, especially, refugees, exiles, evacuees, internally displaced persons, those who are persecuted. We can take a quick look at the difficulties that every migrant family lives through, the hardships and humiliations, the deprivation and fragility of millions,” he said....
In light of the problems that integrating new cultural and ethnic groups entails, Benedict XVI suggests once again the principle that both migrants and the host society should mutually welcome one another. “Only respect for the human dignity of all migrants on the one hand, and the acknowledgement of the host society’s values by migrants themselves on the other, can families be properly integrated in the social, economic and political structures of the host societies”.
In a globalised society where migration is a daily occurrence and where self-ghettoisation is a temptation, the Pope noted that “the reality of migration should never be seen as a problem but rather as a great resource in humanity’s journey. The migrant family is especially a resource so long as it is respected as such and is not subjected to irreparable breaks but is allowed to remain united or to form again and fulfil its mission as the cradle of life and the first circle in which the human person is received and educated.”
In name of this commitment, the Pope called for the “intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, patron saint of migrants”.
While the remarks directed to the first four lingustic groups were an almost-identical boilerplate on our Blessed Lady's exhortation in today's Gospel to "Do whatever he tells you," the pontiff went a step further with the Poles.
In the Italian transcript of the appearance released by the Holy See Press Office, while speaking in Polish the Pope expressed the unique prayer that Mary's sentiments may be ones "of encouragement to the families of migrants, refugees and for all of us, especially in the particularly difficult moments of life, when we search for the truth and the help of God."
Oblique, sure, but the reference is there.
PHOTO: Reuters/Alessandro Bianchi