Pope Francis Challenges Nations To Safeguard Refugees

As a record number of people around the globe flee their homelands to escape war, unstable governments, crushing poverty, and other crises, Pope Francis put the onus on nations to look out for the well-being of refugees and migrants. While he did have some praise for efforts made so far to protect the world’s displaced humanity, which numbers in the tens of millions, the pontiff urged that much more can be done.

According to Reuters, the pope described the plight of refugees in vivid terms.

“Large numbers of people are leaving their homelands, with a suitcase full of fears and desires, to undertake a hopeful and dangerous trip in search of more humane living conditions.”

Francis added that it is not enough to simply “tolerate” migrants, and warned against blind judgment without learning more about the circumstances behind someone’s decision to become a refugee.

“Often, however, such migration gives rise to suspicion and hostility, even in ecclesiastical communities, prior to any knowledge of the migrants’ lives or their stories of persecution and destitution.”

In June, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) released a report that put the global number of refugees at over 50 million, a level that hasn’t been seen since World War II.

The pope was emphatic when he said that “no country can singlehandedly face the difficulties associated with this phenomenon,” and made a plea for “a more just and equitable financial and economic order.”

Francis held up the Catholic Church as an example of how to approach migrants, providing them with “a culture of acceptance and solidarity, in which no one is seen as useless, out of place or disposable.”

Pope Francis has been a staunch champion of the poor and those who are considered on the fringes of society. He has lately been moved to make his presence known on the world stage, as evidenced by his recent visit to Albania—a predominantly Muslim country—where he spoke out against religion being used to spur violent acts.

Meanwhile, in the United States, President Obama has delayed taking action on immigration reform, stalling further discussion in light of the upcoming November elections. Obama said the issue remains a sensitive one for Americans, with the recent waves of children crossing the nation’s southern borders sparking government debate and division again.

Do you agree with Pope Francis’ call to world governments and organizations? Should they be doing more to address the ever-increasing refugee crisis? How do you think the US is doing on this issue?

[Image via The Huffington Post]