Thursday, July 04, 2024

Migrants meet with Pope: He is like a father for all of us

Pope Francis meets with migrants at Casa Santa Marta

Pope Francis’ meeting with migrants on Tuesday afternoon was not the first such encounter. Each, however, follows a similar pattern, and each time “a great moment of grace” is repeated.

A group of migrants visited Casa Santa Marta to get to know a man they see as a “father” and a “shepherd to all,” in the words of Fr Mattia Ferrari, who accompanied the group.

Authors share their stories

The central figures in Tuesday’s meeting were two young people, Ibrahim Lo, who came from Senegal, and Ebrima Kuyateh, originally from Gambia, who both journeyed through Libya to come to Europe.

Ibrahim is the author of Pane e acqua. Dal Senegal all’Italia passando per Libia (“Bread and Water. From Senegal to Italy via Libya”) and La mia voce. Dalle rive dell’Africa alle strade dell’Europa “My Voice. From the Shores of Africa to the Streets of Europe”); while Ebrima has shared her story in a book with the eloquent title, Io i miei piedi nudi (“I My Bare Feet”) with a preface by, among others, Erio Castellucci, the Archbishop of Modena-Nonantola and bishop of Carpi, as well as an afterword by Stefano Croci, director of Migrantes.

Among the rest of the group meeting with Pope Francis were Fr Mattia Ferrari; Stefano Croci, director of Migrantes Carpi; Giulia Bassoli, a volunteer from the same section; and Luca Casarini, founder and mission leader of Mediterranea Saving Humans and a special guest of the Synod of Bishops; and Sister Adriana Dominici, a consecrated sister of Spin Time Labs in Rome.

Stories of hell and hope

Father Mattia explained that Pope Francis wanted to listen to their stories and to thank “everyone for what they do and what they live,” and he encouraged them “to keep going.”

One of those stories came from Pato, who had already met with Pope Francis in November 2023. The death from thirst of Pato’s wife Fati and daughter Marie as they crossed the desert last year struck consciences around the world.

Similar stories of hellish experiences, though, were mixed with stories of hope that migrants wanted to share with the Holy Father. Their experiences, including the welcome received by these young people, Fr Mattia said, demonstrate that, whether at sea or on land, “when we rescue or welcome the poor, the migrants, it is they who are saving us.” And it shows that “in the love, in the fraternity that one lives with the poor, with migrants, one actually experiences salvation.”