Unconditional welcome has been the cornerstone of the movement since its beginnings. It is by putting this into practice every day that we help to redress the world’s problems.
Emmaus’ transformative vision began with a founding act. If we return to 1949, we meet George, a former convict. He is suicidal and he turns to Abbé Pierre for help. Abbé Pierre instinctively opens his door to him, without asking any questions, and immediately asks him to “come and help me to help others”.
This act of dignified and unconditional welcome makes the movement unique: if someone knocks at our door to ask for help, we will open it without asking questions, without discrimination, but rather with respect for their dignity. To encourage people to get back on their feet, we suggest getting involved in a project that will help them to take on responsibility, particularly by supporting other people who live in similar circumstances. From this powerful vision of welcoming, the first Emmaus communities were born in France and then across the world.
Abbé Pierre used the image of a broken windowpane to never forget the responsibility of looking around you and as a reminder not to ignore new calls of distress.
”Always make sure you have one broken windowpane in your comfortable homes, so you can hear the cries coming from outside”, he would say.
Emmaus still plays the role of watchdog on precariousness and exclusion that undermine our societies worldwide. Unconditional welcome has become our political yardstick; driven by the desire to bring people together, it encourages interaction and contributes to ‘building society’ on the basis of co-responsibility.
Contrary to the pervasive individualism and consumerism that surrounds us, the welcoming practices we defend provide solace and solidarity in the face of inequality and injustice.
As a pillar of the movement across all regions, this transformative vision is more than a hope. It is a possible response to the health, social, economic, and ecological crises that we are facing.
Welcoming and involving vulnerable people for them to assume their rightful place in society is an essential condition for overcoming poverty. Furthermore, it is an essential step to confront all types of future exclusion.