ROME – During his weekly general audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis spoke of “enemies of hope,” and once more expressed the importance of welcoming immigrants by announcing a global campaign by Caritas Internationalis, a Rome-based federation of Catholic charitable agencies around the world, called ‘Share the Journey.’
“Even hope, like all good things in this world, has enemies,” the pope said.
He recounted the Greek mythological tale of Pandora and her famous box, which, once opened, let all the evils of the world loose. Francis added that the last thing to escape the box was hope, “which supports life, protects it, keeps it and makes it grow.”
Hope, the pope continued, is the “the most divine thing that exists in the heart of man,” because it allows people to believe that tomorrow will be better despite the pain and disappointment of today.
“Hope is the push in the heart of those who leave their home, and sometimes their family and relatives – I am thinking of migrants – to find a better life, with more dignity for themselves and their loved ones,” the pope said, adding that hope is a two-way street when it comes to migration.
“It’s also the push in the heart of those who welcome: the desire to encounter, meet, dialogue… hope is the push to share the journey,” he said.
The new Caritas campaign, ‘Share the Journey,’ is focused on providing practical ways for Catholics to encounter migrants and refugees and assist families forced to leave their countries in search of a better life.
“I encourage you to support this praiseworthy initiative as an expression of our solidarity with our many brothers and sisters in need,” the pope said adding that such initiatives “are a sign of a Church that tries to be open, inclusive and welcoming.”
Francis extended his arms wide toward the audience and called faithful to welcome migrants and refugees. “Just like this,” the pope said, “arms wide open, ready for a sincere, affectionate, enveloping embrace, a bit like this colonnade of St. Peter’s square, which represents the Mother Church who hugs all who share in the common journey.”
The poor and migrants were at the center of the pope’s speech, which pointed to the fundamental role they played in the story of Catholicism and the Church, starting with Joseph and Mary. The humble, the pope said, prepared the “revolution of goodness,” and while very poor they had the greatest richness of all: “The desire for change.”
“Brothers, we mustn’t be afraid to share the journey! We mustn’t be afraid to share the hope!” Francis said. He then described a young man, with no patience and who never had to work or sweat to achieve anything. “He looks like a young man, instead autumn has already fallen on his heart,” the pope said at the Sep. 27 audience.
“To have an empty soul is the worse obstacle to hope.” The pope added that sloth is one of the enemies of hope and Christians must fight it, because it leads to melancholy and indifference.
“When our energies seem to wane and the battle against anguish is particularly hard, we may always call the name of Jesus,” the pope said and then recited a “prayer of hope:” “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me sinner!”
“No one will take away our hope,” he concluded. “Let’s go forward!”
During the audience, Francis offered a shout-out to civil organizations who are committed to assisting migrants and refugees and those who in Italy have been collecting signatures for a better and more current migration law.
The pope also prayed for the victims of the hurricane that hit the Caribbean these past few days, especially Puerto Rico.