Keeping the celebration of the Pauline Year in mind, Pope Benedict's message for the 95th World Day of Migrants and Refugees focuses on the efforts of St. Paul to “make Jesus loved and known by all.” In the message released today, the Holy Father calls on Catholics to learn from St. Paul’s example by preaching the Gospel message to all, especially to migrant people.
The Pope’s letter, with the theme of "St. Paul Migrant, Apostle of the Peoples," has been published in English, French, Italian, Spanish and German for the World Day of Migrants, which will be celebrated on January 18, 2009.
The Pontiff's message begins by describing St. Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, and how he worked to evangelize all peoples. He "spared no effort to ensure that the Gospel was proclaimed to all, making no distinction of nationality or culture." St. Paul's life and his preaching, the Pope explains, "were wholly directed to making Jesus known and loved by all, for all persons are called to become a single people in Him."
Benedict XVI also points out that, even in an era of globalization, migrants - students far from home, immigrants, refugees, displaced people, evacuees - including for example, the victims of modern forms of slavery, and of human trafficking," must be reached with the Gospel.
Just as in Paul's time, today the "message of salvation must be presented with the same approach" as St. Paul used, although we must take "into account the different social and cultural situations and special difficulties of each one as a consequence of his or her condition as a migrant or itinerant person."
Pope Benedict also expresses his desire that "every Christian community may have the same apostolic zeal as St Paul. May his example also be an incentive for us to show solidarity to these brothers and sisters of ours and to promote, in every part of the world and by every means, peaceful coexistence among different races, cultures and religions," the Pontiff says.
Noting that the Acts of the Apostles and the Letters that Paul portray “a model of a Church that was not exclusive but on the contrary open to all,” Pope Benedict calls on the Church to specifically care for migrant peoples. "How can we fail to take charge of all those, particularly refugees and displaced people, who are in conditions of difficulty or hardship? How can we fail to meet the needs of those who are 'de facto' the weakest and most defenseless, marked by precariousness and insecurity, marginalized and often excluded by society? We should give our priority attention to them."
"The World Day for Migrants and Refugees, which will be celebrated on January 18, 2009, must be for all an incentive to live brotherly love to the full without making any kind of distinction and without discrimination, in the conviction that any one who needs us and whom we can help is our neighbor. May the teaching and example of St Paul, a great and humble Apostle and a migrant, an evangelizer of peoples and cultures, spur us to understand that the exercise of charity is the culmination and synthesis of the whole of Christian life," the Holy Father prays in his message.
He closes his letter by exhorting Catholics to proclaim and witness “to this 'Good News' with enthusiasm, without fear and sparing no energy!"
"May the Apostle Paul and especially Mary, the Mother of acceptance and love, obtain this gift for us."