The latest update on the European migrant crisis involves a faith challenge issued by Pope Francis. In wake of a mass movement of thousands of refugees from war-torn Middle Eastern countries, the Pope has a challenge to Catholic parishes in Europe: Open your doors to those in need from Syria, Iraq, and other stricken regions who are seeking shelter and asylum.
According to the Washington Post, the Bishop of Rome issued the “broad challenge” to every parish and religious institution — including monasteries — to shelter one refugee family. As a result, tens of thousands of migrants besieged by the European crisis can be housed.
Why are people migrating to Europe? Apparently, the worsening conditions in areas under IS control — the Islamic State’s control — and alleged “barrel-bombing” by Syrian president Bashar al-Assad on civilians has led to the emerging crisis.
The numbers are unofficial, but some sources claim tens of thousands have died in war skirmishes, alleged ethnic cleansing, and atrocities committed by terrorists from the Islamic State. The Washington Post wrote that 332,000 migrants have reached countries in Europe so far this year.
As many as 4 million Syrians alone have fled their homeland to neighboring countries since 2011. Sadly, thousands more are in limbo and await decisions by the European Union and other political leaders on whether to give help to refugees.
Some have called the response from Europe “ridiculously small” at best, according to an ABC report. Since the crisis hit a head, there has been repeated finger-pointing from coalition countries; critics suggest a shared responsibility due to strained resources.
As Europe’s leading economic partner, all eyes are on Germany to offer a solution to the migration crossroads. And, under the leadership of Chancellor Angela Merkel, the country has pledged 6 billion Euros to address the growing migrant crisis. France followed suit by allowing 24,000 refugees seeking asylum a passageway into the country.
During his Sunday address, Pope Francis reiterated his pledge to help solve the plight throngs of people face who brave borders and the Mediterranean for a new life. At the beginning of his Papacy, Francis pointed out the need for leaders to do more for humanitarian purposes and eradicate what he calls the “culture of indifference.”
“Facing the tragedy of tens of thousands of refugees — fleeing death by war and famine, and journeying towards the hope of life — the Gospel calls, asking of us to be close to the smallest and forsaken. To give them a concrete hope. And not just to tell them: ‘Have courage, be patient!’ “
To show his commitment to the European migrant crisis, the Pontiff said the two parishes in the Vatican are taking in two refugee families. The United Nations said Europe should make provisions for about 200,000 refugees. With 50,000 Catholic parishes across the continent, Pope Francis said the situation is easily solved — for the moment — if everyone lends a helping hand.
[Photo by Mario Tama / Getty Images]