On the 105th World Day of Migrants and Refugees on September 29th, Pope Francis celebrated mass in St Peter’s Square, Rome, in front of 40,000 faithful.
At the end of mass, he underlined the moral imperative to welcome and give hospitality to refugees by inaugurating a 20-foot tall bronze, three and a half-ton sculpture, in St. Peter’s Square.
Entitled “Angels Unaware”, the work by Canadian artist Timothy P Schmalz depicts 140 migrants and refugees from various historical periods travelling on a boat, and includes the Virgin Mary and Joseph, Jews fleeing Nazi Germany and those from war-torn countries, along with an Angel.
Pope Francis said the statue had been inspired by a passage in “Letter to the Hebrews” from the New Testament: “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”
Our Parish continues, alongside members of our community from other faiths and from none, to lend support to refugees and asylum seekers. Recently, a 4 generation family of Sikhs who had fled persecution in Afghanistan, and had been placed by the Home Office in Clitheroe, were finally given leave to remain in the UK. They have since moved to Southall in London to be part of the Sikh community there.
The future of the Kurdish Iraqi family, whose legal costs the Parish has been supporting, is now awaiting the outcome of a Judicial Review – we await the date. Their lawyer thinks they have a strong case. Another Kurdish family also living in Clitheroe, this time from Iran, is awaiting a Home Office decision on their future.
So we think of the migration of the Holy Family, firstly to Bethlehem and then, after the birth of our Lord, to Egypt to escape Herod’s persecution, please pray for a good outcome for these families, and for all others fleeing persecution, war, and famine.