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Catholics asked to 'move from indifference to solidarity' with migrants

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WASHINGTON — Auxiliary Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville of Washington urged people to take up Pope Francis' invitation to "move from indifference to solidarity" to better understand the plight of migrant people and refugees around the world.

"Countries have the moral obligation to open the doors for those who might be richer in dreams and expectations," Bishop Dorsonville, chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Migration, said during his homily at a Mass Sept. 26 marking the 107th World Day of Migrants and Refugees at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington.

He described as "shameful" and "painful" the treatment of Haitians and other migrants arriving at the U.S. border in Texas under conditions of excessive heat and lack of food, water and shelter.

At one point some 15,000 migrants were gathered under the Del Rio International Bridge at the Del Rio Sector.

"We have to respect the human dignity of the person," he said. "The human person is the image of God."

The bishop noted that "there are 80 million people around the world, they are refugees, they are migrants, and many of them are victims of human trafficking."

Expanding on Pope Francis' theme of "toward an ever wider 'we'" for this year's observance of the day, Bishop Dorsonville said the faithful are called to love others as much as one's own family.

"Let us love the stranger," he said. "Let us love the immigrant, the undocumented, the one who is unfortunately faceless and voiceless because they are the dwelling place of Jesus Christ."

At the multilingual Mass, Bishop Dorsonville said it was a joy to see a few hundred people who gathered to reflect and pray for migrants, immigrants and displaced people.

In a welcome message, Msgr. W. Ronald Jameson, cathedral rector, greeted three ambassadors, representing the countries of Guatemala, Ecuador and Myanmar, as well as other international representatives who attended the liturgy.

He also read an excerpt from Pope Francis' annual message for the day, quoting: "We are all in the same boat and called to work together so that there will be no more walls that separate us, no longer others, but only a single 'we,' encompassing all of humanity."

Additionally, Tabla For Two, a Washington-area musical duo who perform Afghan music to promote peace and mutual understanding, provided the hymn during preparation of the Eucharist as well as music during the prelude.

Calling the Mass a "nice surprise," Maunica Malladi, a Washington resident who attends Mass at St. Matthew's, did not know of the annual commemoration of the World Day of Migrants and Refugees.

"Everything about it was beautiful," Malladi said, adding that for the faithful, the annual event symbolized people's shared humanity. "Jesus was a refugee as well. We are all his brothers and sisters."

Mumola writes for the Catholic Standard, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Washington.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2021