Source: Washington Post
By Akbar Ahmed
To understand the pope’s approach, method and message, take a look at his visit to the island of Lampedusa. The small island in the Mediterranean has become a battleground of the larger ideas that are in conflict in Europe. It has been visited by rightwing leaders who denounce immigrants in crudely racist and xenophobic terms.
The pope’s visit therefore became symbolic of a counter-balancing approach, one that was more welcoming, all-embracing, caring and compassionate. The pope spoke of the “immigrants dying at sea, in boats which were vehicles of hope and became vehicles of death.” He shared his distress at the “tragedy” which has become like “a painful thorn in my heart.” He felt “shame” at the plight of those who were suffering and the indifference of the world. “The Church” he assured the immigrants, ”is at your side as you seek a more dignified life for yourselves and your families.”
The pope used the plight of the mainly African immigrants to raise larger issues that afflict all humanity in the age of globalization. He condemned what he called “the globalization of indifference.” He berated “the culture of comfort, which makes us think only of ourselves, makes us live in soap bubbles which, however lovely, are insubstantial; they offer a fleeting and empty illusion which results in indifference to others.”