Monday, July 08, 2013

Pope in Lampedusa



Pictures and news of the Popes first 'Apostolic Voyage' Lampedusa are coming in. The island lies halfway between Sicily and Tunisia. He is celebrating a penitential Mass in Porta Europa the arrival point for those immigrants who survive the crossing from North Africa. He has placed a wreath in the sea in memory of those who did not survive the Mediterranean crossing. To emphasise the danger the Pope has an new ferula made from pieces of of a wrecked immigrant boat, the same apparently with the lectern but the temporary altar however is a gaily painted fishing little boat, with a lacey altar cloth, just to remind us it is Italy! The OT reading is the slaying of Abel and the Gospel the massacre of the Innocence. The Pope and his assistants sit whilst Holy Communion is distributed by priest and deacons and large number of Extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion. The music is truly excruciating, in a way that only Italian clergy, with a gang of youth can make it.

It is not the liturgy that the world media will focus on but the importance of the Pope 'going to the peripheries' and recognising the plight of refugees, shortly before the Pope's arrival a boat limped into the port carrying 160 Eritrean refugees.

According to the BBC
The Pope criticised the 'attitude of indifference' to the plight of refugees. He called for a "reawakening of consciences" to counter the "indifference" shown to migrants."We have lost a sense of brotherly responsibility," he said, and "have forgotten how to cry" for migrants lost at sea.He denounced the traffickers who exploited migrants and took great risks with their lives. Francis, whose own ancestors immigrated to Argentina from Italy, has previously stood in sympathy with impoverished illegal migrants.
I'll put up some more pictures when they become available. His very powerful sermon can be found here.

Pope Benedict tried to get the Church's prayer to conform its faith 'lex credendi, lex orandi', Francis seems sadly oblivious to this but what I find exciting is his insistence on 'lex credendi lex vivendi' believing and living. Belief has consequences for our living which so often we forget. He reminds us of the moral consequences of faith, whether it is in conjunction with the Vatican Bank, or the destitute on city streets, the unborn, or here, immigrants on beaches of Lampedusa or their brothers dead in the sea.

God bless our Pope!




39 comments:

Martina Katholik said...

Below about those "immigrants" from wiki. They are illegal muslim immigrants.
What about the huge number of persecuted Christians in the Middle East and in Africa which are beaten, raped, forced to convert to Islam or killed by our muslim "brothers" and who want to flee to non-muslim countries and cannot because they have no money?
I really hope the Pope will soon give them a voice to.

"Since the early 2000s, Lampedusa has become a prime transit point for illegal immigrants from Africa, the Middle East and Asia wanting to enter Europe.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lampedusa_immigrant_reception_center

In 2011, many more immigrants came to Lampedusa during the rebellions in Tunisia and Libya.[15] By May 2011, more than 35,000 immigrants had arrived on the island from Tunisia and Libya.[16] By the end of August, 48,000 had arrived.[17]
Most were young males in their 20s and 30s.[18] The situation has caused division within the EU, the French government regarding most of the arrivals as economic migrants rather than refugees in fear of persecution.[19]
The Libyan ambassador to Italy stated that Gaddafi controlled illegal immigration to meet his goals- "he wanted to turn Lampedusa black with Africans".[17]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lampedusa


Fr Ray Blake said...

So?

As Christian we are told 'to give without counting the cost', 'to welcome the stranger'.

quiavideruntoculi said...

Surely, Father, that does not extend to giving away other people's livelihoods.

Illegal immigrants cost the hard-earned money of honest taxpayers, drive down wages, and - if left unchecked - destroy community cohesion and the indigenous culture.

Not so legal immigrants or refugees, who approach the host country, not with a view to what they can get out of her, but with a sense of profound gratitude.

It amazes me how the compassion that we are constantly being exhorted to extend to criminals and 'unfortunates' evaporates when it comes to decent fellow citizens.

It was a false prophet, Mahomet, who taught "Neighbour before household." Pope Francis, along with many others, appears to believe he was onto something.

quiavideruntoculi said...

Surely, Father, that does not extend to giving away other people's livelihoods.

Illegal immigrants cost the hard-earned money of honest taxpayers in social welfare payments, drive down wages, and - if immigration is left unchecked - destroy community cohesion and the indigenous culture.

Not so legal immigrants or refugees, who approach the host country, not with a view to what they can get out of her, but with either a sense of profound gratitude for her generosity in offering sanctuary or sincere love of her values and way of life.

It amazes me how the compassion that we are constantly being exhorted to extend to criminals and 'unfortunates' evaporates when it comes to our fellow citizens.

It was a false prophet, Mahomet, who taught "Neighbour before household." Pope Francis, along with many others, appears to believe he was onto something.

Dymphna said...

So no kind word to the Italians who have been overwhelmed by migrants?

Dymphna said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fr Ray Blake said...

Jesus tended not to make qualifications, on the contrary. the greater the cost, the greater the faith that is required and the greater the merit.

No where do I read, 'welcome only the political refugee, whose politics you agree with' or 'feed only those who aren't work shy' or 'heal only the sick who merit healing'. Politicians might make those qualification, disciples of Christ do not.

quiavideruntoculi said...

I agree with your first sentence.

However, there seems to me to be a significant difference between e.g. a political refugee and an economic opportunist - or, worse still, a person immigrating in prospect of lavish welfare handouts and an easy life.

Notice that I referred specifically to illegal immigrants; perhaps some are classed 'illegal' unjustly, but you would surely not defend the position that all immigration should be legalised.

My point remains, that it is one thing to be generous of our own resources; it is quite another to be generous on other people's behalf with other people's money. Christ never advocated that.

quiavideruntoculi said...

If by feeding the glutton, you deprive the starving orphan, I say, let the glutton go hungry.

It cannot be charitable to allow a disingenuous person, whose evil intent is known to you, to continue to prevail upon you for some material benefit which could be better used. That can not be the same as feeding the hungry, healing the sick, clothing the naked.

I do believe, however, that one should give freely to any unknown beggar, and that one should not make an examination of him first. But as I say, if he makes a point of telling you, e.g. "I need some money for heroin" it seems to me you should withhold the money.

The same goes for our hypothetical illegal welfare-scrounging immigrant.

quiavideruntoculi said...

By the way, God does teach that we should feed only those who are work shy.

"He who does not work, neither shall he eat." 2 Thessalonians 3:10

Fr Ray Blake said...

Quiavide,

I think you are confusing Reaganomics with Gospel!

In 2 Thess. Paul is addressing an internal Church problem, NOT qualifying something given by the Lord, as an instruction to all Christians.

quiavideruntoculi said...

I don't think so. I follow Christ, not Reagan, and I will agree that there is a great deal wrong with neo-liberalism.

I do not deny that anyone in need (criminal or no) should be given assistance - indeed, we are exhorted to visit with those in prison. However, to make the leap from that to saying that it is right to encourage criminality or sin of any kind by rewarding it is ridiculous. Illegal immigrants are criminals; they should be imprisoned and deported, not fed and housed and treated with kid gloves by the government at the taxpayers' expense.

Are you suggesting that it actually helps the sluggard, who is only hungry because he refuses to work, to keep feeding him?

I don't see how, if Paul's doctrine was appropriate in that case, we can avoid extending it to other cases. What makes the internal church affair different?

Also, show me the scripture where Christ tells us to reward sinners for sinning, or - better yet - the scripture which justifies taking other people's money to do so.

quiavideruntoculi said...

I don't think so. I follow Christ, not Reagan, and I will agree that there is a great deal wrong with neo-liberalism.

I do not deny that anyone in need (criminal or no) should be given assistance - indeed, we are exhorted to visit with those in prison. However, to make the leap from that to saying that it is right to encourage criminality or sin of any kind by rewarding it is ridiculous. Illegal immigrants are criminals; they should be imprisoned and deported, not fed and housed and treated with kid gloves by the government at the taxpayers' expense.

Are you suggesting that it actually helps the sluggard, who is only hungry because he refuses to work, to keep feeding him?

I don't see how, if Paul's doctrine was appropriate in that case, we can avoid extending it to other cases. What makes the internal church affair different?

Also, show me the scripture where Christ tells us to reward sinners for sinning, or - better yet - the scripture which justifies taking other people's money to do so.

quiavideruntoculi said...

N.B.
It is Neo-liberal economics which, by far, most favours the free movement of people between countries.

I don't agree with that. I believe in allowing refugees, and small numbers of foreigners - willing to integrate into the native culture - to immigrate.

You will recall, that "...[God] hath made of one, all mankind, to dwell upon the whole face of the earth, determining appointed times, and the limits of their habitation." (Acts 17:26)


GOR said...

scmore 1451I opined earlier that Pope Francis would make us uncomfortable – and he does!

I’m familiar with the situation at Lampedusa. I’m even more familiar with the problem of illegal immigrants here in the US. As one who jumped through all the legal hoops to gain entry legally into the US many decades ago, I’m conflicted about illegal immigrants.

On the one hand I say: “Obey our laws. Go through the proper procedures for legal entry!” On the other hand I can’t blame the people who come here illegally to have a better life and provide for their families. Were I in their shoes, I would probably do the same.

This weekend my sister-in-law was rear-ended by an illegal immigrant. He took off, but was tracked down. He didn’t have a driver’s license or insurance and only spoke Spanish. So now my sister-in-law will have the expense of repairs or replacement of her car, while there are no repercussions for the illegal immigrant. So much for the rule of law!

Yes, Our Lord didn’t distinguish between those in need and maybe we always have to turn the other cheek. But it is hard – and maybe that is what the Gospel and Pope Francis is telling us.

And while I have much sympathy for the Mexicans who are fleeing the wasteland that is much of Mexico, I have little sympathy for the 50,000+ illegal Irish immigrants present in the US, who came here on tourist visas and just went off the radar.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Quia Vide,
Keep comments, please

Fr Ray Blake said...

The trouble is that we can tame the Gospel to fit into our personal political outlook. Jesus demands more than that.

Faith must be 'the great light that illuminates everything with its Truth'.

johnf said...

Rome Reports that the Pope decided to travel to Lampedusa, when he read that seven North Africans died near Sicily. The migrants were clinging on to fishing nets, but when the fishermen saw them, they cut the nets and left them to their death.

Callous eh?

Martina, I and my wife are supporters of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) which in my view does not get enough prominence, being eclipsed by the likes of CAFOD. ACN's reports of persecution in Africa and the Middle East are quite horrifying and we need to assist in any way we can, financially and with prayers.

I have written twice to the Foreign Secretary to complain about the lack of HMG interest in the plight of Christians particularly in Pakistan, but of course right across Africa and the Middle East.

Cameron and Hague are busy threatening these countries that unless they are kinder to homosexuals their aid will be reduced. A new letter to Hague is now called for to ask why he does show the same concern for Christian persecution.

Perhaps if lots of people wrote to Hague, the penny might drop...

quiavideruntoculi said...

Dear Father,

I am sorry that my comments riled you - I meant no offence.

You don't offer any arguments or evidence as to why I am on the wrong track. Why, if I may put it baldly, should I believe your private interpretation of what the illumination of Faith means? What support for your opinion is to be found in Holy Tradition? What support from scripture? What support from the Fathers? I do not see it.

Re this, "The trouble is that we can tame the Gospel to fit into our personal political outlook. Jesus demands more than that." I don't want to take credit for whatever light may be mine; everything I have I owe to Christ. For what it is worth, I credit Christ with bringing me to an understanding that in politics, what is favoured is often what sounds good, viz. "oh, be nice!" rather than what actually helps people.

Being compassionate to illegal immigrants (that is, in effect, paying people to wreck the economy) seems to me to fall into that category. As does being compassionate towards violent criminals; innocent people suffer, and that isn't right. No amount of warm fuzziness that you or I may feel about our being compassion will make it right.

I used to entertain an opinion not far removed from yours, because it seemed good on paper. I changed my mind, because God taught me to follow the facts, and to care more about what actually seems to work to help people. To the best of my understanding, my position seems to fit the facts, and appears to be wholly consonant with Holy Faith.

Could you clarify for me precisely what your opinion is, and explain how you support it? Also, could you clarify in what precisely you believe I have erred?

Your son in Christ,

Q.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Quiavide,
They haven't riled me. they are just long.
They also seemed to based on a narrow political view rather than Faith.

quiavideruntoculi said...

Well, I'm glad to hear that. I will try to make them shorter. :)

By what measure is a political view to be adjudged 'narrow'?

parepidemos said...

Father Blake, Thank you for being so patient in the dialogue with quiavideruntocoli and for pointing out that there can be no qualifications when it comes to living out the command of Christ, who Himself set none in offering His life for the salvation of all humanity.

I remember walking along the street with my mother and questioning her decision to drop a coin into the hat of a beggar. Her response was "Whatsoever you do..." and that shut me up rather quickly.

Sometimes I fear that we can form our faith according to our political position rather than vice versa. I believe that both Benedict and Francis challenge us in that regard, albeit in different ways. God bless them both.

Fr Ray Blake said...

QV,
By being political rather than Faith centred!

quiavideruntoculi said...

parepidemos,

You will notice, I hope, that I did explicitly state that I favoured indifferently giving alms to a beggar on request.

Father,

Thank you for the clarification. I would describe my political opinions as faith based; I believe in kingship, because Christ is my King. I believe in liberty, because Christ has made me free to work righteousness (freedom =/= license). I believe in an equal law, because all men will be judged alike against the same Divine Law, and by the same Judge. I believe, in Aristotle's words, that "man is by nature a political animal", because Adam, being one man, contained all men in his sin, and Christ incorporated all of His saints into His body by His life, death, and resurrection - therefore I oppose both the individualists and the collectivists. I believe in punishing criminals and rewarding the righteous, because I believe in the freedom of the will.

Conchscooter said...

G K Chesterton remarked:
“Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.” A thought which could give QV pause, if QV were inclined to credit anyone else with being able to articulate a thought worth hearing.

Nicolas Bellord said...

Surely there is a question of balance to be considered here. Suppose I am a poor person with just enough to feed my family. Am I obliged to feed somebody who is better off than I just because he comes into my house and eats at my table uninvited? It might be heroic to do so but I do not think I am obliged to. Would it not be better to remonstrate with him about the injustice of what he has done?

The problem of illegal immigrants is of course much more complicated. We should be looking at why they are coming and seeing if there is a root cause that can be cured.

Fr Ray Blake said...

QV,
There is a world of difference in having notions which are 'faith based' and acting in Faith!

Think of Abraham, as Lumen Fidei urges us, or BVM. God speaks, their whole lives respond with generosity.

Nicolas Bellord said...

Pope Frances asks us to pray for the immigrants. As far as I know he is not asking for a change in the law but probably asking that they should be treated humanely in accordance with the law. Causing death by drowning by cutting the fishing nets is surely a criminal act. Failing to save somebody at sea is contrary to the unwritten code that is supposed to govern all people who work on the seas.

quiavideruntoculi said...

"There is a world of difference in having notions which are 'faith based' and acting in Faith"

What one actually does in life is a different matter, of course - and I'll be the first to admit that I falter very often. But you don't know about that. So far as my profession goes, either my beliefs are consonant with the Christian religion or they aren't. As to my interior dispositions and motivations, with respect, you haven't got a clue about that. Only God does.

You can't get around this by claiming that there's some deeper darker mystery that I'm just not seeing; Christianity is supposed to be a religion of light, not darkness. I don't buy it.

Show me where and why I'm wrong. I am very happy to be corrected. Only a fool hates to be rebuked (Ps. 9:8).

quiavideruntoculi said...

I agree with Mr Bellord.

Conchscooter, you do yourself no favours by patronising my position like that.

I am an ardent student of Chesterton, and very familiar with that quotation, both in theory and in practice. Again, you know nothing about me or my intentions; stick to the argument, and we'll all get along fine.

quiavideruntoculi said...

Father - the reason I thought my comments had riled you was that I read "Keep comments."

Evidently, you must have intended, "Keep comments short."

CSR said...

I hardly feel like Pope Francis is shaking things up by making a general call to follow Jesus' literal words in all aspects of our lives. He is very clear on issues concerning the poor, not so clear or bold on many others. The result of that kind of picking and choosing is to make things seem political.

Immigration is a very complicated issue, especially in light of the modern welfare/diversity state. The Church has never asked any nation to base its policies on "give anyone, anything he asks for" or "turn the other cheek." Like St. Paul, it has always distinguished between the responsibility of individuals and the state (not to mention between the councils of natural law and the councils of perfection). I feel like pretending this issue is so cut and dry is an affront to previous Church teaching, more than some inspired return to the purity of the Gospel.

Fr Ray Blake said...

CSR,
It is for politicians to decide policy but for the Church to remind them that all most done with deep unselfish sacrificial fraternal love.

Genty said...

If Europe had retained its Christian heritage it would do more than just give immingrants landfall and then bus them around to a meagre susbsistence on welfare. It would not be difficult to put Christian principles into practice if each nation set up a series of centres so that these young men could be trained for a trade which would massively benefit their own homelands on three counts: their own sense of human worth in earning a decent living, while improving life for their communities, and their ability to pass on their skills and education to others.
It is mere conscience-salving for governments to throw billions at developing countries and to ignore the fact that much of it never reaches those whose lives are impoverished. The results are plain to see in these desperate attempts risking life and limb to find a better life, only for the survivors to experience resentment and worse by those at the bottom of the pile who are struggling to survive their own decimated economies.
Throwing a wreath into the sea for those who have perished can only be a gesture unless it prompts a new way of thinking.

quiavideruntoculi said...

Father,

Being sacrificial with one's own resources is one thing; as CSR understands, being sacrificial with other people's is quite another.

The ministration of the law is distinct from the ministration of the Church - or will you maintain the contrary? You can't just cut and paste e.g. the communal life recorded in the acts into politics. What is praiseworthy as a voluntary act - in this case sharing one's goods in common - is a crime when it is done under coercion. We call it theft.

The thieves say, "Cast in thy lot with us, let us all have one purse" (Prov. 1:14) Charity with other people's money isn't charity; it's theft.

nickbris said...

Certainly woke up the xenophobes Father.

I take it that that lot call themselves Christian,never heard about the Good Samaritan or anything that Our Lord taught.

Immigrants do not take work away from the thieving bankers & financial whizzkids who are bleeding the country dry.and they are not likely to become bloodsucking landlords; if allowed to work they do the jobs that nobody wants and get a pittance for hard graft in the fields or clearing up our filth

quiavideruntoculi said...

Nickbris,

I think every commenter apart from yourself, without exception, has managed to distinguish between immigrants in general and illegal immigrants in particular.

Do you believe that all immigration should be legalised? Or would you prefer just to bury your head in the sand on this question, and label those who can be bothered to think about it seriously 'xenophobes'?

By the way, some foreigners really are a fearful bunch (xenophobia = irrational fear of foreigners). Give it 40 years, and I wonder if you will retain your serenity in the face of a majority Muslim demographic.

quiavideruntoculi said...

Also, Nickbris, did it never occur to you that it was precisely those powerful moneyed interests to which you refer which have constantly favoured what the neoliberals call 'the free movement of labour'?

The cosmopolitan elites don't give a damn about the indigenous culture (what's left of it); in fact, the more they can compromise our Christian heritage by importing the sons of the devil by the cartload from the Middle East, the better, so far as they are concerned.



Long-Skirts said...


“ I also think with affection of those Muslim immigrants who this evening begin the fast of Ramadan, which I trust will bear abundant spiritual fruit. The Church is at your side as you seek a more dignified life for yourselves and your families. To all of you: o’scià!”

http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/francesco/homilies/2013/documents/papa-francesco_20130708_omelia-lampedusa_en.html