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Rome Reports

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Pope Francis in Mass with refugees: fear is the origin of slavery and dictatorship

Pope Francis celebrated Mass at Fraterna Domus center in the outskirts of Rome. It was to open the congress for “Free from fear.” The congress is hosting people who help welcome migrants. 

The Mass was also attended by migrants and refugees from Centro Astalli. It is an institution based in Rome. Every year they support around 21,000 people to help them regain their dignity, confidence and dreams. 

The Mass readings recalled the people of Israel's exodus and how terrified they were when the Egyptians were running after them. Moses invited the people not to “be afraid"; and so did Pope Francis when he asked people not to reject immigrants.

“The Lord speaks to us today and asks us to let Him free us from our fears. 'Free from fear' is the very theme chosen for your meeting. Free from fear. Fear is the origin of slavery, the Israelites preferred to be slaves because of their fear. It is also the origin of every dictatorship.”

Pope Francis also said when one locks themselves up in their own fears they are surrendering their land of freedom to return to the slavery of Egypt.

“This retreat into oneself, a sign of distrust, increases our fear of the 'other,' of the unknown, the marginalized, the stranger. They are the privileged ones of the Lord, as Matthew says in 25. This is particularly noticeable today, with the arrival of migrants and refugees knocking at our door in search of protection, security and a better future.”

After his homily, the representatives of the center gave this picture to the pope with an image of Jesus rescuing Peter from the water. “It represents Lord Jesus saving Peter, who is sinking in the water, and telling him to 'not be afraid.'” 

Before leaving, the pope spontaneously expressed his gratitude for the work these people do at the center. 

“I would like to thank you all for the work you do. Small steps are big steps in history.”

He bid farewell to these sick people in the front row and to some members of the center before heading back to the Vatican.