The Astalli Center, in the heart of Rome, has been aiding refugees worldwide since 1981. It is part of the Jesuit Refugee Service founded by the then-general of the Jesuits, Father Pedro Arrupe.
On the 35th anniversary of this iconic institution, the Pope sent a video message to the refugees, volunteers, employees and friends of the center.
Pope Francis reminds that all people that have been forced to flee their homelands are brothers with whom we "share bread, homes and life.” At the same time, he apologized.
"Too many times you have not been welcomed! Forgive the closure and indifference of our societies that fear the change in lifestyle and mentality that requires your presence. You are treated like a burden, a problem, a cost, but are, instead, a gift.”
For the Pope, the Astalli Center is an model example of a place that hosts and takes care of refugees. This is why he invited those that continue to bare witness to "the beauty of this encounter.”
"Continue walking alongside them in their journey. Accompany them and be guided by them: Refugees know the ways that lead to peace, because they know the acrid odor of war.”
Finally, he asked them to continue the work that they have been doing during the past 35 years, in their continuous ways of helping society listen the voices of refugees.