It is not Christian to shut out immigrants says Pope Francis

Pope Francis is greeted by faithful during an offertory as he celebrates a Mass at Lobito beach in Iquique, Chile, January 18, 2018. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

Vastavam web: Pope Francis said on Thursday that it is not Christian to shut out immigrants, urging nations to welcome people whose lives had been “watered down” by poverty, injustice and exploitation.“There is no Christian joy when doors are closed; there is no Christian joy when others are made to feel unwanted, when there is no room for them in our midst,” he said in the homily of Mass on a beach in this city in Chile’s far north.

“The cry of the poor is a kind of a prayer; it opens our hearts and teaches us to be attentive,” he said from an enormous white stage framed by dune-like desert mountains on one side and the hazy blue of the Pacific Ocean on the other.In the United States, lawmakers are still grappling with the fate of so-called dreamers, who were brought to the country illegally as children and now face deportation after decades of living there.

In Europe, the German far-right and anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany party became a key force last year, and in Italy, the anti-immigrant Northern League is expected to make gains in national elections in March.The trials and difficulties of immigrants trying to keep their families together had left many feeling like “their lives had been watered down,” he said as 50,000 people faced the stage and the ocean.The region around Iquique, which means “dreams,” in the local indigenous Aymara language, has the country’s highest percentage of migrants, according to official statistics.

People from neighboring Peru, Argentina, Ecuador and Bolivia have been attracted to Chile’s northern desert region, home to the majority of mines and a booming service and construction industry in the world’s biggest copper exporter.“There are many immigrants here who don’t have work, who live with very little, in rooms like animals,” said Dora Reyes, a Peruvian shopkeeper who moved to Chile two decades ago. “There is still a lot of racism and inequality.”