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Pope asks prayers, dignified welcome for refugees

Myanmar refugee camp

Seeking shelter: Displaced Myanmar residents sit inside a shelter at a camp outside Sittwe, Myanmar, on June 18. Anticipating the United Nations’ World Refugee Day on June 20, Pope Francis asked people to pray the Hail Mary for people forced to flee their homes to escape “conflicts and persecution”.
Photo: CNS/Soe Zeya Tun, Reuters

ADDRESSING Mary as “mother of refugees”, Pope Francis offered prayers for the millions of people in the world forced to flee their homelands, and he asked Catholics to reach out to them with assistance and a real welcome.

“Remember, Jesus was a refugee; he and Mary and Joseph had to go to Egypt to save his life,” the Pope said on June 18 at the end of his weekly general audience. “Pray to Mary who knows the pain of being a refugee.”

Anticipating the United Nations’ World Refugee Day on June 20, Pope Francis led an estimated 30,000 people in praying the Hail Mary for all those “forced to leave their homelands to flee conflicts and persecution”.

“Millions of families – millions – of every religious faith” have sought refuge in many countries around the world, the Pope said. Even when they reached a safe place, they lived with “dramas and wounds that cannot be healed easily”.

“Let us be close to them, sharing their fears and their uncertainty about the future and concretely alleviating their suffering,” the Pope said.

Pope Francis also prayed that God would bless the people and organisations that generously work to ensure refugees find a welcome, recognition of their dignity and hope for the future.

CNS

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