Pope Francis: borders should be ‘windows,’ not barriers of division

100920 1 Pope Francis meets a delegation from the project Snapshots From The Borders at the Vatican Sept. 10, 2020. / Vatican Media.

Pope Francis appealed Thursday for a fundamental change in the way the world sees migration. 

In an address to supporters of a new project called Snapshots From The Borders Sept. 10, the pope said that it was "vital to change the way we see and talk about migration: it is about putting people, faces, stories at the center."

He said that the "far-sighted" project, which aims to establish a network among cities at the borders of the European Union, was an example of the "culture of encounter which leads to a new humanism."

"The inhabitants of the cities and frontier territories -- the societies, communities, churches -- are called to be the first actors in this turning point, thanks to the continuous opportunities of encounter that history offers them," he said.

"Borders, long considered as barriers of division, can instead become 'windows,' spaces of mutual knowledge, of mutual enrichment, of communion in diversity; they can become places where models are experimented with to overcome the difficulties that the new arrivals bring for the indigenous communities."

Snapshots From The Borders is a three-year project co-funded by the EU and run by 35 groups, including local authorities and civil society organizations. The project's website says it aims to "contribute to a new European narrative" about migration, promoting "a more coherent human rights-based approach" to the issue.

The pope spoke to the group, who included the mayor of the Italian island of Lampedusa, two days after fire devastated Europe's largest refugee camp, leaving 13,000 people without shelter. 

He said: "Faced with these challenges, it seems clear that concrete solidarity and shared responsibility are indispensable, both at a national and international level."

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