Refugees from Eritrea tell Pope Francis about their journey to safety during a meeting Feb. 21 at the Vatican with participants in the VI International Forum on Migration and Peace. CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano

Toronto family tells their story of migration directly to Pope Francis

By  Jean Ko Din, The Catholic Register
  • February 22, 2017

A Toronto family had the chance to take centre stage during an audience with Pope Francis at the VI International Forum on Migration and Peace in the Vatican Feb. 21.

Vilma Cortelucci-Fiuza, along with her husband, brother and sister-in-law, shared with the Holy Father their personal testimony as Italian migrants who settled in Canada.

"We today have realized the universal dream of all migrants, to fulfill the dream of providing a better home, a better life for our family and our loved ones," said Cortelucci-Fiuza, who was one of several presenters delivering their story of migration in front of the Pope.

"Because of our blessings, and never forgetting the plight of the migrant, today for the past 40 years, we are part of a Scalabinian parish, St. Paschal parish in Toronto, Canada, where we give of ourselves in whatever way we can by being advocates for those who are marginalized, the most vulnerable in our society, the people with special needs."

Cortelucci-Fiuza and her family concluded their presentation with a plea for the Pope to bless all the migrants of the world and a promise to continue their advocacy through the Scalabrinian International Migration Network (SIMN).

SIMN, established in 2005, is the advocacy and fundraising arm of the Congregation of the Missionaries of St. Charles Borromeo, also known as the Scalabrinian Missionaries.  SIMN works to support Scalabrinian missionaries all over the world, including apostolic works in orphanages, migrant centres and refugee camps.

In his address to the Forum, the Pope said refugees escaping persecution, violence and poverty are often shunned and deemed as "unworthy of our attention, a rival or someone to be bent to our will."

"Faced with this kind of rejection, rooted ultimately in self-centredness and amplified by populist demagoguery, what is needed is a change of attitude to overcome indifference and to counter fears with a generous approach of welcoming those who knock at our doors," he said.

The Pope said millions of people are being forced to flee their homelands due to "conflict, natural disasters, persecution, climate change, violence, extreme poverty and inhumane living conditions."

To confront this challenge, he said, the Church and civil society must have a "shared response" of welcoming, protecting, promoting and integrating migrants and refugees.

Helping migrants, exiles and refugees "is today a responsibility, a duty we have toward our brothers and sisters who, for various reasons, have been forced to leave their homeland: a duty of justice, civility and solidarity," the Pope said.

Responding to the migration crisis also involves addressing the root causes of the situations that force people to flee, he said, pointing particularly to "unacceptable economic inequality," which violates "the principle of the universal destination of the earth's goods."

"One group of individuals cannot control half of the world's resources," Pope Francis said. "We cannot allow for persons and entire peoples to have a right only to gather the remaining crumbs."

With files from the Catholic News Service

Comments (1)

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Migrants - they are enriching the world with their experiences. May God continue to bless them with security and joy.

Dr.Cajetan Coelho
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