Pope's visit to Lesbos in Greece a plea to 'look migrants in the eye'
By Andrea Tornielli
Five years later, the Pope wanted to return to this island to visit migrants an refugees. At the beginning of his speech he quoted the words spoken, right here, by Patriarch Barthlomew of Constantinople in 2016.
"Those who are afraid of you have not looked at you in the eyes. Those who are afraid of you do not see your faces. Those who are afraid of you do not see your children. They forget that dignity and freedom transcend fear and division...They forget that migration is an issue for the world". (His Holiness Bartholomew, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople - Discourse on the occasion of Pope Francis' visit to Lesbos, April 2016)
Those words of the Patriarch, which Francis wanted to repeat, help us to not forget, to not turn away.
People, not numbers
We learn again and again that the people who are here, those who knock on our borders, are not migrants and refugees, they are not numbers, they are people.
We learn to look them in the eye. They are victims of war, of hatred, of climate change, of human traffickers, of politicians who use them as bargaining chips.
Instead of looking the other way or dividing ourselves by exploiting fear, let us all try together to question the system that causes inequality and fuels wars.