World Refugee Week offers a poignant reminder of the millions of people around the world who have been forced to flee their homes due to conflict, persecution and violence. For Catholics, this week is not just a time to raise awareness but also an opportunity to reflect deeply on our faith’s teachings about compassion, hospitality and solidarity with the marginalised.

The call to welcome the stranger is a fundamental tenet of the Catholic faith, deeply rooted in both Scripture and tradition. The Old Testament repeatedly emphasizes the importance of caring for the stranger among us. Leviticus 19:33-34 instructs, “When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt.”

Jesus Himself, in the New Testament, reinforces this message through His teachings and actions. In the Gospel of Matthew, He identifies Himself with the stranger, saying, “I was a stranger and you welcomed me” (Matthew 25:35). This identification with the marginalised and displaced is a powerful call for Catholics to see the face of Christ in every refugee and to respond with love and compassion.

Pope Francis has been a vocal advocate for refugees, consistently urging the global community to respond with solidarity and support. In his message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, he stated, “Each migrant and refugee is a human being who bears the face of Christ and who we must respect and offer the opportunity to live in dignity” (Fratelli Tutti). Pope Francis encourages Catholics to go beyond mere awareness and to take concrete actions to support refugees. He emphasises the need for a culture of encounter, where we actively seek to understand the experiences and struggles of refugees, and extend our hands in friendship and assistance.

World Refugee Week calls us to put our faith into action, living out the Gospel message of love and compassion. By welcoming refugees and standing in solidarity with them, we bear witness to the transformative power of Christ’s love. This week is also a reminder that our actions, no matter how small, contribute to a larger movement of justice and mercy. Every gesture of kindness, every word of support, and every prayer offered in solidarity with refugees is a step toward building a more compassionate and just world.

As we observe World Refugee Week, let us remember that every refugee is a beloved child of God, deserving of dignity, respect and compassion. Let us open our hearts and minds to their stories, allowing their experiences to transform us and move us to action. In the spirit of Christ, who welcomed the stranger and loved the marginalised, let us commit to being instruments of His peace and compassion. Together, we can create a world where refugees are not just seen and heart, but welcomed and cherished as part of our human family.

may our efforts during this week and beyond reflect the boundless love and mercy of God, and may we always strive to be a beacon of hope and support for those who are displaced and seeking refuge.