In another tip of the pontifical hat to immigration, Pope Francis said during his trip to the Baltic states — those resistant to the E.U.'s migrant wave — that the Virgin Mary stands close to "the deported."
Giving his homily at the Shrine of the Mother of God in Latvia, Pope Francis said that Mary "stands near those who suffer, those from whom the world flees, including those who have been put on trial, condemned by all, deported."
"Nor is it that they are simply oppressed or exploited; they are completely outside the system, on the very fringes of society," Francis said. "The Mother also stands close by them, steadfast beneath their cross of incomprehension and suffering."
During his trip to Latvia, the Pope denounced both isolationism and "ways of thinking that would have us be suspicious of others." More importantly, the Pope said to resist those thoughts even when evidence shows "we would be better off, more prosperous and more secure just by ourselves."
Instead, the Pope said that "Mary and the disciples of these lands invite us to ‘receive’ our brothers and sisters, to care for them, in a spirit of universal fraternity."
The Pope's message followed statements he made in praise of Lithuania for their history of integrating migrants, holding them up as an example for their European neighbors. He even suggested that people lived in peace until "totalitarian ideologies" came onto the scene.
"Lithuania was able to shelter, receive and accept peoples of various ethnic groups and religions," Francis said on Saturday. "All found a place to live in this land — Lithuanians, Tartars, Poles, Russians, Belarusians, Ukrainians, Armenians, Germans."
"Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants, Old Catholics, Muslims, Jews — lived together in peace until the arrival of totalitarian ideologies that, by sowing violence and lack of trust, undermined its ability to accept and harmonize differences," he said.
The Pope warned Lithuanians of those who are "sowing division and confrontation, often by exploiting insecurity or situations of conflict."