Pope urges Jesus-centred view of asylum seekers
In a robust challenge to both politicians and the church, the Pope has said that asylum seekers and immigrants must be seen through the eyes of Jesus.
His message comes ahead of the 92nd World Day of Migrants and Refugees, to be observed on January 15.
It comes as Christians begin preparations for Christmas, when Jesus himself will be remembered as an asylum seeker and immigrant.
The theme has previously been used by campaigners in the UK who have wished to highlight the plight of asylum seekers. A grass-roots campaign against the arbitrary detention of asylum seekers enacted the arrest of Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus in 2003.
Given the vast number of people who ask for asylum or seek a better future abroad, the Church must see them through the eyes of Jesus, Benedict XVI said.
The message was presented to the press by Cardinal Stephen Fumio Hamao, president of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers.
In the letter, the Pope looks at the situation of migrants requesting asylum and calls for reflection on the reasons that have caused them to flee from their countries of origin.
"Speaking of the other category of migrants -- asylum seekers and refugees -- I wish to underline how the tendency is to stop at the question of their arrival while disregarding the reasons for which they left their native land," Benedict XVI writes.
"The Church sees this entire world of suffering and violence through the eyes of Jesus, who was moved with pity at the sight of the crowds wandering as sheep without a shepherd," the Pope explains.
In particular, Benedict XVI encourages "[t]heir native Churches" to "demonstrate their concern by sending pastoral agents of the same language and culture, in a dialogue of charity with the particular Churches that welcome them."