The pontiff addressed officials from the civil world on his first visit to the nation of Malta. The pontiff exhorted his listeners to be open to “rediscover the beauty of serving our neighbors in need.”
“Today, when those who cross the Mediterranean in search of salvation are met with fear and the narrative of ‘invasion' and safeguarding one's own security at any price seems to be the primary goal,” Francis stated, “let us help one another not to view the migrant as a threat and not to yield to the temptation of raising drawbridges and erecting walls.”
“Other people are not a virus from which we need to be protected, but persons to be accepted,” said the Pope and added that Christian ideals are that of accepting others and can be described as “a summons to overcome suspicion, ingrained mistrust, fear of losing our privacy, all those defensive attitudes which today's world imposes on us.”
In his speech at the Vatican, Pope Francis compared the migrants who landed on the shores of Malta to those of Saint Paul who shipwrecked by Malta two millennia ago, and “found ready assistance.”
The most important thing the pope said is that “Paul was a man, a man in need of assistance. Humanity is first and foremost: that is the lesson taught by this country whose history was blessed by the arrival of the shipwrecked apostle.”
With the increasing influx of migrants in recent years, “fear and insecurity have nurtured a certain discouragement and frustration,” Francis declared. “If the complexity of the migration issue is to be properly addressed, it needs to be situated within a broader context of time and space.”
The phenomenon of migration is an indication of the times that “brings with it the burden of past injustice, exploitation, climatic changes and tragic conflicts, whose effects are now making themselves felt,” he said.
“From the poor and densely populated south, great numbers of people are moving to the wealthy north: this is a fact, and it cannot be ignored by adopting an anachronistic isolationism, which will not produce prosperity and integration,” said the official.
The Mediterranean “needs co-responsibility on the part of Europe, in order to become a new theatre of solidarity and not the harbinger of a tragic shipwreck of civilization,” he stated. “The mare nostrum should not become the biggest cemetery of Europe.”