Rome (Italy) On 24 September 2023, on the last Sunday of September, the 109th World Day of Migrants and Refugees (WDMR) is celebrated, established by the Church in 1914 to bring the reality of migrants and refugees to the attention and prayer of ecclesial and civil communities. It is an opportunity to demonstrate closeness to vulnerable people on the move, to pray for them as they face many challenges, and to raise awareness of the opportunities offered by migration.
“Free to choose whether to migrate or to stay” is the theme of the Message for the Day 2023, in which the Holy Father highlights a reflection on the right, not yet codified at an international level, to be able to remain in one’s own land and not necessarily have to migrate:
“The flight of the Holy Family into Egypt was not the result of a free choice, just as many of the migrations that marked the history of the people of Israel were not. Migrating should always be a free choice, but in fact in many cases, even today, it is not. Conflicts, natural disasters, or more simply the impossibility of living a dignified and prosperous life in one’s homeland force millions of people to leave.”
At the conclusion of the Message, Pope Francis asks God the Father in prayer for the grace of commitment and the courage to fight to alleviate these situations:
“… give us the grace to work hard for justice, solidarity, and peace, so that all Your children are guaranteed the freedom to choose whether to migrate or to stay. Give us the courage to denounce all the horrors of our world, to fight against every injustice that disfigures the beauty of Your creatures and the harmony of our common home. Support us with the strength of Your Spirit, so that we can show Your tenderness to every migrant You place on our path and spread the culture of encounter and care in hearts and in every environment.”
The intention for the month of September, released in the video of the Pope’s World Prayer Network, ‘It’s not just about migrants. It is about charity,’ is also in consonance with the theme, as the Pope invites us to pray for people who live on the margins of society and promote acceptance by societies:
“What is at stake is the face we want to give ourselves as a society and the value of every life. (…) we cannot forget that the progress of our peoples cannot be measured only by technological or economic development. It depends above all on the ability to let oneself be touched and moved by those who knock on the door and with their gaze discredit and disempower all the false idols that mortgage and enslave life; idols that promise an illusory and ephemeral happiness built on the margins of reality and the suffering of others”.
How can we make our communities increasingly inclusive?
This is the question that the Holy Father asks in a video from the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development (DSSUI) of the Holy See, in which he gives this indication:
“Migrations will continue to populate and enrich all of history. Wherever we decide to build our future, in the country where we were born or elsewhere, the important thing is that there is always a community there ready to welcome, protect, promote, and integrate everyone”.
The Dicastery website offers the possibility of downloading all the 2023 WDMR materials useful for the animation of the Educating Communities: the Pope’s Message and the kit for the celebration of the WDMR 2023 in different languages, as well as links to various videos with testimonies.