Pope Francis met on 20 September with leaders of different Christian churches who have been taking part in a Rome meeting on combating racism and xenophobia, saying he hoped their encounter would give rise to many other such shared initiatives.
The Pope greeted individually each participant in the World Conference on Xenophobia, Racism and Populist Nationalism in the Context of Global Migration. The three-day encounter was jointly organized by the World Council of Churches and the Vatican’s Office for Integral Human Development, in collaboration with the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.
He told the religious leaders that we live in a time in which “suspicion, fear, contempt and even hatred” towards those of different ethnicities, nationalities or religions are on the increase, giving rise to acts of intolerance, discrimination and exclusion.
Politicians, he noted, succumb to the temptation of exploiting such fears and using them for short-sighted electoral interests.
We cannot remain indifferent to the gravity of these phenomena, the Pope said. We are all called, in our respective roles, to “promote respect for the intrinsic dignity of each human being”, firstly in our families where we learn the values of sharing and welcome, but also in the various social contexts in which we live and work.
The Pope highlighted the responsibility of schools and universities, as well as all those working in the media, to promote a culture of encounter, openness and respect for diversity. Leaders of all religions, he said, “have an important mission: that of spreading among their faithful the principles and ethical values that are written by God in the heart of every person”.
In particular, he said, the Christian churches have a moral responsibility to witness to the love of Christ and to our common origin in the Creator which makes us all members of the same human family.
In this way, Pope Francis concluded, we can contribute to building a society founded on the values of the sacredness of human life, solidarity and respect for the dignity of each individual.