For New Year, pope urges help for refugees, respect for life

Young Rohingya refugees played soccer Dec. 10 at the Kutupalong refugee camp near Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Specially established centers in the camps help child refugees with basic education, recreation and counseling services. Before reciting the Angelus Jan. 1, the pope said of migrants and refugees: “Let’s not extinguish the hope in their hearts; let’s not suffocate their hopes for peace.”

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis began the New Year praying the world would demonstrate a marked increase in solidarity and welcome for migrants and refugees.

"Let's not extinguish the hope in their hearts; let's not suffocate their hopes for peace," the pope said Jan. 1 before reciting the Angelus with a crowd gathered in St. Peter's Square.

For the New Year's celebration of World Peace Day and the feast of Mary, Mother of God, Pope Francis had chosen to focus on migrants and refugees and their yearning for peace.

MESSAGE FOR WORLD PEACE DAY | Build peace by welcoming migrants, refugee

Pope Francis gave a reflection at a prayer service for peace in South Sudan and Congo Nov. 23 in St. Peter’s Basilica.

VATICAN CITY — Exploiting a fear of migrants and refugees for political gain increases the possibility of violence and discrimination and does nothing to build a culture of peace, Pope Francis stated in his message for World Peace Day 2018.

"Those who, for what may be political reasons, foment fear of migrants instead of building peace are sowing violence, racial discrimination and xenophobia, which are matters of great concern for all those concerned for the safety of every human being," the pope stated in the message, which was released by the Vatican Nov. 24.

COMING OF AGE | Teens can share the journey of migrants and refugees

Of the 65.6 million displaced people in the world, 10.3 million became displaced in 2016, reported the United Nations refugee agency. This equates to one person becoming displaced every three seconds.

Many of these migrants, refugees and internally displaced people are children and teenagers. Yet often their journeys are invisible, and they are voiceless. Or, for some countries, they become just a number.

But these are human beings with lives and stories.

Aid workers see humanitarian crisis as Rohingya flee to Bangladesh

Exhausted Rohingya refugees rested on the shore in Shah Porir Dwip, Bangladesh, after crossing by boat through the Bay of Bengal Sept. 10.

OX'S BAZAR, Bangladesh -- Bangladesh is bracing for a massive humanitarian crisis because of a lack of food, sanitation, medicines and even basic housing following the exodus of as many as 350,000 Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar, fleeing violence in which at least 1,000 were killed in just two weeks.

Archdiocese, others reach out with welcoming, loving hands

Several Catholic ministries in the Archdiocese of St. Louis are organizing a "Solidarity Walk and Mass With Our Immigrant and Refugee Brothers and Sisters" on Saturday, April 8, from St. Louis University to the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis.

Participants will assemble at noon at the Clock Tower on the SLU campus for an opening prayer. They then will embark on a prayerful procession west on Lindell Boulevard to the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, Lindell Boulevard and Newstead Avenue, for a multilingual Mass at 1:30 p.m.

U.S. bishops ask Catholics to accompany migrants and refugees

A woman in New York walked Sept. 16 past hundreds of refugee life jackets collected from the beaches of Greece. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops urged Catholics to “not lose sight of the fact that behind every policy is the story of a person in search of a better life.”

WASHINGTON — The U.S. bishops in a pastoral reflection called all Catholics to do what each of them can "to accompany migrants and refugees who seek a better life in the United States."

Titled "Living as a People of God in Unsettled Times," the reflection was issued March 22 "in solidarity with those who have been forced to flee their homes due to violence, conflict or fear in their native lands," according to a news release from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

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