Pope Francis celebrated Palm Sunday not with triumphant cheerings of “Hosanna,” but in lament, decrying the European Union’s ill-handling of the refugee crisis.
The pontiff’s Palm Sunday homily was politicized in its deploration of the EU’s indifference to the refugees flooding into Europe from Syria, Libya, Iraq, as well as other parts of Africa and the Middle East — Pope Francis drew parallels between the apathy to the refugees, and the authorities’ treatment of Jesus Christ before his own crucifixion.
As reported by CBS News, the pope connected the story of Jesus with that of the refugee crisis. Jesus, too, was “denied every justice,” he said. “Jesus also suffered on his own skin indifference, because no one wanted to take on the responsibility for his destiny.”
As the Christian gospel goes, Roman authorities washed their hands off the fate of Jesus before his crucifixion, which is just like (according to Pope Francis) what the EU is doing in relation to the refugees coming into Europe today.
While the EU has been debating the refugee crisis and deliberating its migrant policy — a number of member countries have outright refused responsibility for refugees — thousands of migrants have continued landing on the European shores of the Mediterranean, or have spilled in through the Turkey, fleeing war, poverty, and persecution.
Palm Sunday commemorates, ironically, Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem — He (a newcomer) is greeted by happy crowds, holding palm leaves and shouting “Hosanna” (an expression of joy and praise). This Christian festival as much marks the arrival of Christ, as it marks the welcoming gestures of the people of Jerusalem.
So in a Palm Sunday mass, meant to be about the welcoming of Jesus and all newcomers, Pope Francis decried the lack of a welcoming attitude, the “indifference” to the newcomers — the refugees — in the European Union.
In a tweet sent out on Thursday, Pope Francis’ ideas of welcoming the newcomers, an allusion to the EU Refugee Crisis, are further clarified.
No one can be excluded from the mercy of God. The Church is the house where everyone is welcomed and no one is rejected.
— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) March 17, 2016
Pope Francis’ activity on social media, itself, has been recieving much attention recently — aside from being the first Pope to bring the papacy to the social media age with his Twitter account, he has also started an Instagram account (handle: @franciscus) on Saturday.
Within 12 hours of his Instagram advent, the pope had garnered 1 million followers — breaking a record (held by David Beckham) for the fastest Instagram account to hit a million followers, according to CNN Money.
The Pope’s instagram post for Palm Sunday, as well as the previously embedded tweet, perfectly supplement his homily and his focus on “welcoming” the refugees to Europe, rather than treating them indifferently.
“And I am thinking of so many people, so many on the margins, so many refugees” for whom “many don’t want to assume responsibility for their destiny,” Francis said in a clear reference to Europe’s migration debate.
The Pope had abandoned his original Palm Sunday homily text to talk about this pressing political issue of the refugee crisis, referring to the EU’s debated and conflicted handling of it as apathy — comparing it with the authorities fateful treatment of Jesus Christ that led to his crucifixion.
Now equipped with a Twitter and Instagram, Pope Francis’ political and religious statements resonate with the world populace; as of now, he has 9 million Twitter followers and 1 million Instagram followers. His refugee crisis lament, combined with his tweets and Instagram photos, connects current events like the refugee crisis with his homily subject of Jesus Christ, through social media.
[Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images]