Pope Francis: "The Catholic Church Must be Open and Welcoming"

Il Papa Francesco ha recentemente proclamato che i Cattolici devono essere attenti di non formare una separazione con i gruppi minoritari, riferendosi ai rifugiati, i senzatetto, gli immigrati, gli abbandonati, i poveri, ed altre persone bisognose. Ha spiegato che i Cristiani devono dare loro accoglienza. I Cristiani spesso volte non vogliono accettare i gruppi differenti nelle loro chiese o le loro comunità. Papa Francesco ha dichiarato che queste azioni non sono le azioni di un Cristiano. Dobbiamo invece camminare insieme con tutti gli esseri umani senza i pregiudizi e senza la paura. Ha detto che con le braccia aperte agli stranieri, possiamo trovare gli angeli che non abbiamo saputo che fossero.

Speaking from a window overlooking St. Peter’s Square in late September, Pope Francis said sometimes Catholics, instead of having humble and open communities, “can give the impression of being the ‘top of the class’ and keeping others at a distance.”

Before leading the Angelus prayer at the Vatican on September 26, Pope Francis said the Catholic Church must be open and welcoming toward others, warning that division and exclusion come from Satan. “We need to be vigilant about closure in the Church too,” he said. “Because the devil, who is the divider – this is what the word ‘devil’ means – always insinuates suspicions to divide and exclude,” he added.

“Let us ask for the grace to overcome the temptation to judge and categorize,” he said, “and may God preserve us from the ‘nest’ mentality, that of jealously guarding ourselves in the small group of those who consider themselves good.”

Pope Francis warned that sometimes there are groups of people, such as a priest and his parishioners, some pastoral workers, or movements and associations with particular charisms that close themselves off to outsiders. “All this runs the risk of turning Christian communities into places of separation and not of communion,” he stated. “The Holy Spirit does not want closedness; He wants openness, and welcoming communities where there is a place for everyone.”

After leading the Angelus, a traditional prayer about the Virgin Mary, the pope spoke about the September 26 celebration of the World Day of Migrants and Refugees. He said “it is necessary to walk together, without prejudice and without fear, placing ourselves next to those who are most vulnerable: migrants, refugees, displaced persons, victims of trafficking and the abandoned. We are called to build an increasingly inclusive world that excludes no one.” Francis greeted several groups with the aim of helping migrants and refugees, which were gathered below him in St. Peter’s Square. 

“Thank you all for your generous commitment,” he said. The Pope then invited everyone present to visit the “Angels Unawares” sculpture before leaving the Vatican. The 20-foot-tall bronze statue, unveiled in 2019, is based on Hebrews 13:2, “Be welcoming to strangers, many have entertained angels unawares.” The sculpture, by Canadian artist Timothy Schmalz, depicts migrants throughout history crowded together on a boat with the Holy Family.

La Gazzetta Italiana has had the opportunity to speak with artist Timothy Schmalz on many occasions as he unveils new works, including “Angels Unawares.” Most recently, Schmalz was in the news as he highlighted the 700th anniversary of Dante’s death with his Canto sculptures in Florence. 

Pointing to the “Angels Unawares” statue in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis said, “dwell on the gaze of those people and welcome in that gaze the hope of starting to live again that every migrant has today.” “Go there, see that monument,” he urged. “Let’s not close the doors to their hope.”