Hostility to immigrants is a sin, Pope says

Pope Francis led a Mass on January 14 for the Catholic Church’s World Day of Migrants and Refugees

In this Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018 photo, Pope Francis arrives to celebrate an Epiphany Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican. (Credit: AP Photo/Andrew Medichini.)

In a sense, every papal liturgy in St. Peter’s Basilica has symbolic value, but rarely was that symbolism more overtly on display than on Sunday, when Pope Francis led a Mass for the Catholic Church’s Jan. 14 World Day of Migrants and Refugees.

Obviously intended to drive home the message that migrants are refugees and not just abstractions for Catholicism, but part of its family of faith, there were representatives of 49 nations on hand in the basilica, including 2,000 immigrants and refugees from the Philippines, more than 1,200 Ukrainians, 800 Romanians, 650 Indians, as well as groups from Lebanon, Syria, Madagascar, Sri Lanka, Capo Verde, and China.

Speaking directly to those groups, Francis said on Sunday, “This year, I wanted to celebrate the World Day of Migrants and Refugees with a Mass that invites and welcomes you especially who are migrants, refugees and asylum seekers.”

In his homily, Francis acknowledged that today’s rising numbers of immigrants and refugees often generate fear in host societies, saying those anxieties are “fully comprehensible from a human point of view.”

“Having doubts and fears is not a sin,” Francis said.

“The sin is to allow these fears to determine our responses, to limit our choices, to compromise respect and generosity, to feed hostility and rejection,” he said.

“The sin is to refuse to encounter the other, the different, the neighbor, when this is in fact a privileged opportunity to encounter the Lord,” he said.

The important thing, Francis said, is “to overcome our fears so as to encounter the other, to welcome, to know and to acknowledge him or her.”

Francis began by laying out a challenge to both immigrants and the host societies receiving them.

The pontiff called on new arrivals “to know and respect the laws, the culture and the traditions of the countries that take them in,” and, he said, it’s also important to “understand their fears and apprehensions for the future.”

For host societies, Francis urged them “to open themselves without prejudice to their rich diversity [of migrants and refugees], to understand the hopes and potential of the newly arrived as well as their fears and vulnerabilities.”

Full story at Crux.


  1. This is true, Holy Father… but it’s also true that it’s a sin to bear false witness against your neighbor. Championing a legal, just immigration policy is not hostility. Deceptive practices meant to create open borders for the USA is hostility. Lying about our intent is also hostility. I will pray for you and ask others to join me in this prayer.

  2. William Roberts says:

    Pope Francis – God Bless him! All human beings are worthy of respect and dignity! The Pope has my prayerful support. Notice the Pope did not advocate for open USA borders…he said not a word about this issue.

    • Study the words of Pope Francis… what he says now and has said in the past. I am confident you will see he advocates open borders. Also look for weasel words, because he’s astute enough to know it’s radical and impractical to advocate openly.

  3. Gabriel Espinosa says:

    Why does he not address the hostility of immigrants; the violence being wreaked by them; the rapes including child rapes; the drug trafficking; the islamification of Europe by them?? Where is the concern for the victims of the so called refugees many who are nothing but barbaric!

    • Gabriel, there is no credible evidence that immigrants cause more crime than the rest of the population. Its difficult to get good data because of the many ways the statistics are developed, who and what is counted, etc. But the typical immigrant is not violent, rapist. Drug trafficking is an issue, but still the numbers don’t point to a majority of immigrants. Most immigrants come here for a better life for their families or to escape being killed in their home country. They are not violent people. I wonder how you gained such a fear of the immigrant?

      • When people enter our country illegally, they already show contempt for our laws and our country. Further, having a daughter die in your arms on a San Francisco street by someone who was sent back numerous times only to be let go is so unjust and displays how little people care about others.
        The majority of the illegals come here for economic reasons, not fear for their lives. Even Canada requires a person to have so much in the bank and a job in Canada before they can migrate. Mexico doesn’t let people just waltz in either.
        We have laws in this country, something many people (including judges) don’t seem to get. Don’t like them? Change the laws, but this Congress seems to have no desire to do anything about our immigration laws.

      • Once again Bob One is as wrong as can be. Statistic hidden by the govt of the state of Arizona proved that illegals were 2x as likely to commit murder and other violent crimes that those born here. Bob One cares nothing for this country. He screams diversity but does not explain exactly what that means

  4. Interesting that immigration if not accepted is sin. Where was this concern in the church up until recently. I wonder if Francis is as concerned about adultry, abortion and most famous, sodomite sex ? We hear from him not to breed like rabbits and who am I to judge, nothing about the sodomite/cocain party within tne Vatican. Nothing about priests publicly stating they are sodomites. God please, I beg, stop this

  5. Vatican City State has a wall around it. It doesn’t accept immigrants.

  6. This country allows more Immigrants into its borders annually than any other country in the world… and this good pope sees fit to call us hostile to immigrants.

  7. ms ploumen who just got her commander of the order of pope gregory award specializes in severe hostility to little immigrants from heaven . we must demand open borders for them and not award dark gatekeepers

  8. Pope Francis’s father, emigrated from Italy to Argentina, so it seems natural that he sides with immigrants more than those who have been in a country for a longer time. With every different group brought into a country comes less chance of controlling it peacefully. (Too much disagreement.) Different ethnic groups often resent others groups telling them what to do.

  9. Michael McDermott says:

    There is a conflict inherent in the issue of immigration, regarding the level of ‘Open Borders’ necessary to be a Refuge, versus a society looking for a fresh younger Labor force…
    Versus a fortress guarding the progress made by a distinct culture in peril of being swamped by those (often diametrically) opposed to it – as with Radical Islam overtaking and persecuting the Christian & Jewish Faith – as Isis did in the Levant and wherever else they raised their black flags..

    How can a Nation State provide Foreign Aid, if intended first Aid Recipients are moved inside the Nation with Citizenship status, and the foreign land (formerly fertile) is left to desolation by a population migrating in search of greater consumer electronic goods?

  10. Michael McDermott says:

    A Different point of view – which Deserves Response from those pushing an open borders agenda.

    Eber: Break all the “chains” from the past
    “According to what Webster’s tells us in the dictionary, Chain Migration is the social process by which immigrants from a particular town follow others from that town to a particular destination city or neighborhood. The destination may be in another country or in a new, usually urban, location within the same country.

    This terminology seemed to be acceptable until last week when Democratic leaders Dick Durbin and Nancy Pelosi informed us “chain migration” was a racist term that offended African…

  11. Francis wants every country to not have borders — except his own! Jesus would have had a word for that!

  12. Hostility to voluntary free market exchange advocates is a sin. You have it on the word of St Adam Smith.

  13. When an alien resides with you in your land, do not molest him. You shall treat the alien who resides with you no differently than the natives born among you; have the same love for him as for yourself; for you too were once aliens in the land of Egyot. I, the Lord, am your God. Lev 19:33-34

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