Pope takes refugees back to Rome

Pope Francis arrives to lead the weekly audience in Saint Peter's Square at the VaticanFor the hundreds of thousands of desperate migrants who have made landfall on this verdant jewel in the Aegean Sea over the past year, there had been only two ways off the island: a ferry bound for a new life deeper in Europe or a deportation order that led straight back across the sea.

But that was before Saturday, when Pope Francis whisked in and pioneered a third: a ride with him on a jet bound for Rome.

The Pope’s visit to the Greek island of Lesbos had already been emotional, provocative and deeply symbolic before he gave it a dramatic and unexpected twist in its closing minutes on Saturday.

But when he boarded his Alitalia return flight along with 12 Syrians — including six children — who had lost their houses to bombs, the gesture offered the most vivid illustration yet in the pope’s quest to prick Europe’s conscience over its treatment of refugees.

“May all of our brothers and sisters on this continent, like the good Samaritan, come to your aid in the spirit of fraternity, solidarity and respect for human dignity,” Francis told a group of hundreds of asylum seekers during a visit to the island’s migrant detention facility.

Hours later, in a life-changing moment for a dozen among the tens of thousands of migrants stranded in Greece by Europe’s closed borders, he acted out his counsel that refugees be embraced, not shunned.

The plan to bring three refugee families to the Vatican, the pope told journalists during his flight back from Lesbos, was a “last-minute” inspiration that came together last week. Although all three families were Muslim, he said, they had not been selected based on faith but based on their eligibility.

As late as Friday night, officials in Lesbos had still been sorting out who would accompany the pope, and even turned to chance — selecting names from a box — to narrow the field.

“We wanted to be fair to everyone,” said Stavros Mirogiannis, director at the Kara Tepe camp where the 12 Syrians had lived until they relocated to Vatican City. “They won the lottery. Today is the best day of their lives.”

Francis said that once they arrive and settle in, they will be given assistance to find work. (Washington Post)

2 COMMENTS

  1. Noble gesture must be appreciated by all.if you have a space and concern countries with low population must accept refugees. Degrading population is not a sign of good health for th the country and any nation

  2. Sorry a big publicity stunt. Out of tens of thousand refugees in Greece he has taken a handful to Vatican to announce to the world that he is sympathetic to their plight. Truth is most of the countries are turning their back on these muslim refugees because of the bad experiences they had on taking them as refugees. The Pope isd trying to force these countries to give them refuge so he could be beatified after his death. Three simple questions,
    1. Why don’t these able bodied men stay back in their own country and save the motherland from ISIS
    2. If they are not strong enough to fight back why don’t they seek refuge in oil rich muslim countries like Saudi Arabia, UAE or Quattar instead of going to Western Countries despised by muslims.
    3. If Pope is so concerned publicly why doesn’t he ask Italian authorities where he has every power to take all the refugees instead of taking a handful to Vatican

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here