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16, 2017 — On Jan. 13, Father Arturo Sosa, SJ, Superior General of the Society
of Jesus, joined Centro Astalli (Jesuit Refugee Service Italy) in commemorating
the International Day for Migrants and Refugees at the Church of the Gesù in Rome.

Fr. Sosa gave a talk to commemorate the International Day for Migrants and Refugees. (Patrick Mulemi, SJ)

moment presents an important invitation to the Society of Jesus to accompany …
and to share in the anxieties and hopes of the refugees here in Italy and
everywhere in the world,” Fr. Sosa said.

The event’s theme focused on young immigrants and refugees, and
four young refugees — from Syria, Guinea-Bissau, Iran and Afghanistan — sat with
Fr. Sosa and gave their testimonies before Father General delivered his speech.

means a lot to me that Pope Francis decided to dedicate this day to refugee
children," said Aziz, a 20-year-old refugee from Guinea. He had to leave
his country when he was 16 years old, and he travelled across Mali, then Niger,
Libya and finally Italy. 

Fr. Sosa described how he encountered refugees on the
border between Colombia and Venezuela, where he is from. “I met entire
families that had been forced to abandon everything to save lives threatened by
injustice and violence that has taken hold of our societies. I met children and
young people who had been forced to become soldiers and to participate in wars
so far away from their dreams, thoughts and desires.”

But, he said, he also encountered the “generosity of many
families who welcomed the refugees as brothers and sisters in search of a new

Refugees presented Fr. Sosa with an icon of the three kings. (Martina Bezzini / Jesuit Refugee Service)

Fr. Sosa said he has witnessed the pain resulting from abuse
by police and human traffickers. “Therefore, the efforts of closely
accompanying the refugees and migrants, particularly the young and vulnerable,
are close to my heart. I wish to encourage and promote efforts that ensure the
protection of life and the hope of the child and adolescent refugees,
especially those recruited by traffickers.”

He asked Europeans to “demand that governments create
reception systems, with facilities adequate and conveniently located throughout
their territories to ensure a humane reception of migrants, especially to young

Concluding his talk, Fr. Sosa invited those gathered to “step
up your effort to make our societies places of genuine welcome to those who are
suffering because of the need to migrate.”

At the end of the ceremony, Fr. Sosa received a gift from the migrant
community at Centro Astalli: an image of the Magi coming to visit the child
Jesus. In the image, the Magi are not kings, but rather poor migrants. [Sources: Jesuit CuriaJRS]

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