Pope Francis said the Vatican will offer shelter to two refugee families who are escaping war-torn Syria and other areas in the Middle East.
Speaking to pilgrims and tourists on Sunday, Pope Francis urged parishes, convents, and monasteries across Europe to follow suit. The Holy Father quoted Mother Teresa, who cared for the poorest of the poor in India, to appeal to his audience, according to the Associated Press.
“Faced with the tragedy of tens of thousands of refugees who are fleeing death by war and by hunger, and who are on a path toward a hope for life, the Gospel calls us to be neighbors to the smallest and most abandoned, to give them concrete hope.
“It’s not enough to say ‘Have courage, hang in there.’
“May every parish, every religious community, every monastery, every sanctuary in Europe host a family, starting with my diocese of Rome.”
This week, the image of a little 3-year-old boy escaping war-torn Syria, whose body washed ashore on a Turkish beach, brought the world to tears and exemplified the human tragedy occurring at this very moment. Thousands upon thousands of refugees are trying to find a place to live their lives in a better place.
Europe has been inundated with those escaping the horrors of the war in Syria and persecution from groups such as ISIS who are systematically cleansing Iraq of Christians. Pope Francis’ appeal comes as people are demanding European governments take action to help the refugees.
British Prime Minister David Cameron was one of the first leaders to commit to helping and opening his nation’s borders to welcome more people fleeing Syria and other places in turmoil.
In his remarks, Pope Francis said the Vatican will open two of its parishes to host two families in need of shelter. Even though the Pontiff didn’t share any details, a Vatican spokesman quoted the Pope’s lead alms-giver as saying the Vatican is now deciding which families will be hosted.
Ever since being elected, Pope Francis has made good on his promise to offer mercy to those in need. Opening the Vatican to refugees is not the first time the Pope has welcomed the homeless. He has started an initiative in which those without shelter have access to showers and has barbers available for haircuts and grooming.
After being stuck in Hungary for days on end, thousands of refugees are flocking to Germany and Austria this weekend.
[Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images]