Pope appeals for joint political action for refugees and migrants
By Linda Bordoni
Pope Francis on Wednesday appealed for a joint effort between Europe's political leaders and authorities to find concrete solutions to safeguard the lives and dignity of migrants arriving on the continent.
Speaking during the General Audience the Pope recalled his recent journey to Cyprus and Greece in which, he said, he “touched, yet again, the wounded humanity of refugees and migrants.”
“I also ascertained that only some European countries are bearing the majority of the consequences of the migratory phenomenon in the Mediterranean area, while in reality, it requires a shared responsibility, from which no country can exempt itself," he said.
The Pope’s reiterated appeal comes in the wake of yet another migrant tragedy in the Mediterranean that saw at least 160 people drowning in the stretch of sea between Libya and the Italian island of Lampedusa.
It also comes as increasing numbers of desperate men, women, and children attempt the dangerous Channel crossing between England and France or undertake the freezing "Balkan route" path in eastern Europe.
A shared responsibility
Pope Francis noted that “thanks to the generous openness of Italian authorities,” he was able to bring a group of people whom he had met during his apostolic visit to Rome.
“Some of them are here in our midst today. Welcome! We will take care them, as Church, in the coming months,” he said, noting that this is “a small sign that I hope may serve as a stimulus for other European countries, so that they may allow local ecclesial realities to take charge of other brothers and sisters who urgently need to be relocated."
The next step: integration
The Pope went on to say that after receiving people in need, it is necessary to pave the way for their integration.
“There are many local Churches, religious congregations, and Catholic organizations that are ready to welcome them and accompany them towards a fruitful integration,” he said: “All that is needed is to open a door, the door of the heart!”
Meeting with Afghan child
At the end of the General Audience, Pope Francis took time to greet the one-and-a-half-year-old child he had come into contact with during his visit to a refugee camp in Greece at the beginning of December.
Thanks to the efforts of the Sant’Egidio Community, the child who is in need of medical care, was flown to Rome with his family and is undergoing treatment at the Vatican’s Paediatric Bambino Gesù Hospital.
The child, from Afghanistan, and his family were amongst the many gathered at the Mavrovouni refugee camp on the island of Lesbos to welcome Pope Francis on the morning of 5 December. On that occasion the Pope issued an appeal for coordinated actions to remove the root causes of poverty, underlining that migration is a humanitarian crisis that concerns everyone.