Pope Francis urges Catholic Church to promote rights of immigrants

The Catholic Church should promote the rights of the excluded and abandoned people including the immigrants, Pope Francis said during a mass which marked the end of his visit to Cartagena, Colombia, on Sept. 10.

(REUTERS / Federico Rios)Pope Francis during Angelus prayer in Cartagena, Colombia, September 10, 2017.

Pope Francis' Cartagena visit was marred by a cut on his eyebrow after he bumped his head on the popemobile when he lost his balance at one point. Despite the minor injury, the pontiff carried on with the mass and urged Colombians to follow the example of 17th century missionary St. Peter Claver who became a hero to African slaves during the Spanish colonial times, The Associated Press relayed.

Claver ministered to the slaves who were brought to Cartagena to be sold and recognized their dignity. He treated them as children of God, even though other people looked at them as merely something that can be bought and sold.

The pontiff urged the Catholic Church to follow the footsteps of Claver and "promote the dignity of all our brothers and sisters, particularly the poor and the excluded of society, those who are abandoned, immigrants and those who suffer violence and human trafficking." He also encouraged Colombians to take a step of courage and be reconciled with one another amid the existing divisions left in the wake of a peace deal which sought to end the armed rebellion in the region.

"Colombia, your brothers and sisters need you. Go out to meet them. Bring them the embrace of peace, free of all violence," said Pope Francis. "Be slaves of peace forever."

This was not the first time that Pope Francis talked about reaching out to help immigrants. In February, he called on Christians to build bridges instead of walls and said believers would never say, "you will pay for that," The Independent reported.

While Pope Francis did not mention any name during that weekly address, the Independent says his sermon appeared to refer to U.S. President Donald Trump and his insistence in letting Mexico pay for a border wall that America was going to build. The pontiff urged his audience to live peacefully with all, overcome evil with good, and to fight offence using the weapon of forgiveness.