For World Day of Migrants and Refugees, Archbishop Jospeh F. Naumann is calling for solidarity with those society might prefer to ignore, even as the pandemic isolates.
The following pastoral letter, in addition to being published here, has been translated into several languages and sent to the Burmese, Korean, African and Hispanic Catholic communities in the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.
Archbishop Naumann’s message for World Day of Migrants and Refugees
To the faithful of the church of northeast Kansas, our brothers and sisters who have come from other nations, and all people of good will.
As is our custom, we had planned to celebrate the 106th World Day of Migrants and Refuges with the whole church on Sept. 27 with a special Mass that brought our local migrant and refugee Catholic communities together. Out of caution for those with health issues making them vulnerable to Covid-19, we have chosen not to gather this year in person.
I write this letter to all Catholics as a reminder of our solidarity in the midst of our isolation. At the beginning of this pandemic, I observed that the precautions we take help to build a culture of life, because all of us endure inconveniences and make sacrifices to protect the most vulnerable in our community. This is a sign of hope for a culture that too often turns a blind eye to the endangered lives of the unwanted; from the unborn life inside the womb to the stranger from afar.
As Catholics, we uphold the dignity of all human life. This calls us to welcome the stranger. Pope Francis teaches with this year’s theme of the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, “Forced like Jesus Christ to Flee,” that we should give to migrants and refugees the same care we would to our Lord and his Holy Family. It is through charity that we make Jesus’s love visible and his healing of this broken world possible.
While we welcome and celebrate the migrants and the refugees who seek to be our neighbors, we also acknowledge their suffering and desire to accompany them with compassion. Many have been forced to flee their homes because their economic livelihood and their lives were threatened. Immigrants and refugees are a blessing to our country.
It is our responsibility as American Catholics to work for a world where the human dignity of each person is valued and protected. As Jesus teaches us in the Gospel of Matthew: “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.”
As disciples of Jesus, we work to build up the culture of life by defending the vulnerable. We proclaim the truths of the Gospel that enlighten our civic engagement to make the world better. And so I join Pope Francis in calling upon all who read this message to work to build a culture of life that: “welcomes, protects, promotes and integrates” persons who are displaced, so we all may someday hear our Lord say, “I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”