Pope Francis on Sunday asked believers to join him in praying for a renewed and effective commitment to protect refugees and migrants.

Addressing the pilgrims in St. Peters Square after the recitation of the Angelus prayer, the Pope appealed for respect and care for displaced persons recalling that on Saturday the United Nations celebrated World Refugee Day.

“The coronavirus crisis has highlighted the need to ensure the necessary protection for refugees, in order to guarantee their dignity and safety” he said.

He invited all believers to join him in praying “for a renewed and effective commitment, on the part of us all, to the effective protection of every human being, especially those who have been forced to flee as a result of situations of grave danger to them or their families.”

The Pope’s appeal comes as statistics show there are almost 80 million displaced persons across the globe, the highest number ever recorded.

Care for the environment

Pope Francis went on to note that “Another aspect on which the pandemic has made us reflect is the relationship between man and the environment.”

“The lockdown has reduced pollution and revealed once more the beauty of so many places free from traffic and noise,” he said, inviting us to resume activities with a heightened awareness and responsibility in looking after our common home.

Countries across the world are gradually lifting lockdown restrictions as the curve of coronavirus deaths and infections flattens in some continents and regions. The easing of limitations is triggered mainly by the need to kick-start flagging economies and cut down on  further unemployment and poverty.

The Pope expressed his appreciation for many “grass roots” initiatives that are emerging in this regard all over the world, and voiced his hope that they may “foster a citizenship that is increasingly aware of this essential common good.”

Remembering Saint Aloysius Gonzaga

The Pope concluded thanking those present for coming to pray with him in the Square from various parts of Italy and, increasingly from other countries.

He said that in his own country, Argentina, this is the Sunday in which Father’s Day is celebrated and assured his prayers for all fathers,  noting that it “is not an easy job to be a dad!”

He then expressed his wish to greet young people, in particular,  recalling that today we remember Saint Aloysius Gonzaga, “a young man full of love for God and for his neighbor” who died here in Rome as a result of caring for victims of the plague.

Aloysius Gonzaga was a 16th century Jesuit priest who died aged 23 after falling ill while caring for the sick during the plague in Rome. He was named patron of youth by Pope Benedict XVIII in 1792, an action confirmed by Pope Pius XI in 1926.

ENDS