‘Build bridges not walls’: Pope Francis reiterates message on migrants




Pope Francis repeated his appeal for people to build bridges of understanding at his weekly audience at the Vatican.

The Pope also commented that Wednesday marked both the Church’s day of reflection for young victims of human trafficking and coincidentally the feast day of St Josephine Bakhita, a Sudanese immigrant.

She was a 19th-century Sudanese slave who, after migrating to Europe, became a nun.

“In the social and civil context as well, I appeal not to create walls but to build bridges,” he said. “To not respond to evil with evil. To defeat evil with good, the offence with forgiveness. A Christian would never say ‘you will pay for that.’ Never.

“That is not a Christian gesture. An offence you overcome with forgiveness. To live in peace with everyone.”

Pope Francis has frequently invoked the “bridge not walls” appeal in urging countries to welcome migrants, including when he returned from a visit last year to the US-Mexico border. On that occasion, he was asked about Donald Trump’s campaign pledge to build a border wall and said anyone who wants to build a wall is “not Christian.”

In his remarks Wednesday, Pope Francis also appealed for prayers for members of Myanmar’s Muslim Rohingya ethnic minority, who face official and social discrimination in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, also known as Burma.

“These are good people, peaceful people,” Francis said. “They’re not Christians, but they’re good, our brothers and sisters. And they have been suffering for years. They’ve been tortured and killed, simply because they are continuing their traditions, their Muslim faith. Let us pray for them,” he said.

Most of the estimated 1 million Rohingya do not have citizenship and are regarded as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, even when their families have lived in Myanmar for generations. Communal violence in 2012 forced many to flee their homes, and more than 100,000 still live in squalid refugee camps.


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