In a historic visit to the Greece, Pope Francis sent out a political message for the countries of Europe who are as of yet unwilling to take in any Syrian refugees. In addition to his speeches calling for world action to solve the EU Refugee Crisis, the pope also took 12 Syrian refugees, all Muslim, home to the Vatican with him.
The visit to the Greek island of Lesbos itself important in Pope Francis’ campaign in favor of taking in the refugees; Lesbos is the Ellis Island of sorts for Syrian refugees to Europe. Nearly 4,000 migrants are stranded there in limbo, waiting to see if they will be granted asylum in Greece or not.
The Pope’s message in his visit to such a politically charged location was also bolstered by his many speeches there in favor of taking in migrants.
In one such speech to a refugee camp in Lesbos, Pope Francis expressed his solidarity with the Greek people and wished for more cooperation from the rest of the world to solve this crisis. The Time reports him as saying the following.
“I want to tell you that you are not alone […] We hope that the world will heed these scenes of tragic and desperate need and respond in a way worthy of our common humanity.”
The pope also reinforced this message of solidary while talking to the refugees themselves; in a speech to a camp of Syrian migrants, he told the residents, “Do not lose hope. The greatest gift we can offer to one another is love.”
This radical call for love in a time when borders are being closed to those in need was also echoed by the Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tspiras, who, as ABC News reports, welcomed the pope.
“I am proud of this, […] Particularly at a time when some of our partners — even in the name of Christian Europe — were erecting walls and fences to prevent defenseless people from seeking a better life. That is why I consider that your visit is historic and important.”
Indeed, Pope Francis’ visit to Lesbos is symbolic and historic in its very occurrence, especially in the face of the EU’s closing off in the face of the refugee crisis. In fact, the EU has already started turning away the refugees, deporting hundreds who have made the arduous journey to Greece, back to Turkey.
Francis has remained supportive of Syrian refugees. As already reported by The Inquisitr, he reproved the EU on the refugee situation during his Palm Sunday homily and has remained actively supportive of opening borders to Syrian migrants.
He even tweeted.
Refugees are not numbers, they are people who have faces, names, stories, and need to be treated as such.
— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) April 16, 2016
But it is not just through his worlds that the Pope has been humanizing and supporting Syrian refugees. The Vatican has confirmed that the Pope will be taking 12 migrants stranded on Lesbos back home to the Vatican with him.
The 12 new refugees being granted asylum by Pope Francis will join two other Syrian migrant families who are currently under the care of the Vatican.
“The Pope has desired to make a gesture of welcome regarding refugees, accompanying on his plane to Rome three families of refugees from Syria, 12 people in all, including six children. These are all people who were already in camps in Lesbos before the agreement between the European Union and Turkey,” a Vatican statement read.
“All the members of the three Syrian refugee families are Muslims. Two of the families come from Damascus and the third one comes from Deir Azzor which is located in an area controlled by the so-called Islamic State group. The homes of all three families were destroyed by shelling.“
— AFP Photo Department (@AFPphoto) April 16, 2016
So, in a combination of his strong speeches, his visits to the very frontlines of the refugee crisis, his tweets, and now his granting asylum to Syrian refugees, Pope Francis is taking a very strong stand supporting all migrants fleeing unfavorable conditions.
[Photo by Handout/ Getty Images]