At the Synod of Bishops on 4th Oct., a new concept was mentioned: “the New Lepers”. On 3rd Oct. ten years ago, there was an accident at the Mediterranean whereby 400 out of 550 of the people on the boat were killed, of which 40 were children. There is a sculpture created to commemorate this event at the St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. During the meeting, a photo of 180 deceased was shown all of whom were young people. The Pope reminded us: How do we look at refugees? They are amidst our lives, we should let them have their basic rights, they are the “New Lepers” in today’s culture. We should embrace them as St. Francis of Assisi did. They are the future of the Church, we should confront them. As the elderlies had contributed to society in the past, if we reject the refugees, how can we put into practice “love our neighbours”? People nowadays often ignore people around them as they feel that they are destroying their lives, but this self-centred attitude is contradictory to our religious belief. We need to embrace Jesus Christ, embrace Him who had been crucified on the cross so as to better understand how to love God and love others as we love ourselves. The Pope and The Community of Sant’Egidio will negotiate with the Italian government to express our concern on humanitarian reason (as the Italian government has closed the gate to ban refugees from entering the country).
The Synod of Bishops has chosen to open on St. Francis of Assisi’s Feast Day as St. Francis had introduced cultural reforms in his time from a society of paternal authority to that of fraternal and sisterly organizations. God created life, peace, and love, but now it has become hatred and combat, this is contradictory to the intent of creation. We need to re-create a friendly and loving organization, the real power is with God, we had to embrace the “New Lepers”, embrace all around us. God had to re-establish the groups, we cannot lose peace within our soul, without peace, there is no channel for genuine communication with other people. Let the message of peace be spread among young people, establish the organization upon peace. Don’t be disappointed, peace is possible! As long as we have confidence, peace is possible. Our strongest weapon is our prayers.
Fr. Francis Tam
15 October 2023