Pope Francis addresses participants of the “Cattedra dell’accoglienza” (“The Chair of Welcome”) conference sponsored by the “Fraterna Domus” association and encourages their efforts in promoting a culture of inclusion and welcome in order to build a better future for all.
By Sophie Peeters
The “Cattedra dell’accoglienza” (the Chair of Welcome) is a gathering promoted by the “Fraterna Domus” association from 6 to 10 March in the town of Sacrofano, some 30 Km north of Rome.
The training course brings together teachers and academics from different cultural and religious backgrounds to provide formation on how to offer hospitality to those in need.
In his address to participants, Pope Francis recognized the association’s commitment to teaching how to welcome everyone, making it not a formula initiative, but rather a daily experience.
Welcoming is an expression of love
Quoting from the encyclical “Fratelli Tutti”, the Pope said love “makes us strive toward universal communion.”
Love demands a greater capacity to welcome others, he continued, and is ultimately an “expression of love” which asks us to seek the best for the other: This is where God is in works of charity.
Openness and welcome, Pope Francis underscored, is therefore the first step towards a society that welcomes and integrates each member, even those living on the peripheries or who are excluded or “hidden” in society.
Referring to another passage from Fratelli Tutti, the Pope said the true measure of a country is measured by the ability to think “not only as a country but also as a human family.”
Countries that are closed off ultimately manifest an incapacity for gratuitousness and have the false illusion that they will be more protected as a result.
Mostly, the immigrant or the poor are often seen as those who are “dangerous or useless.”
“Only a social and political culture that includes free welcome can have a future.”
Gratuitousness generates fraternity and social friendship
The theme of gratuitousness, the Pope said, is what is essential for generating fraternity and social friendship.
Only those who freely welcome everyone can have a future, he underlined.
Although the discussion is often focused on how migrants can contribute to societies, the Pope said that the fundamental criterion is not based on the “usefulness” of the person, but rather on the fundamental value of the person itself.
“The other deserves to be welcomed not so much for what he or she has, or can give, but for who he or she is.”
The Pope concluded his address by encouraging the participants to continue in their formation so as to better promote a culture of welcome to those who need it the most.