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 appeal came in the wake of yet another 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 came 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.
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.
He said it 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 pope said 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,” said the pontiff. – from a Vatican News report