Pope Francis has spoken about the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis and said that every Catholic church in Europe should take in one migrant family.
The Vatican is set to lead by example and offer shelter to two families who are ‘fleeing death from war or hunger’.
The crisis has been ongoing for months with refugees fleeing Syria and risking their lives as they cross the Mediterranean in search of asylum in Europe. The mass migration has caused a moral dilemma for many of Europe’s leaders who have been slow to offer asylum for fear of upsetting anti-immigration groups.
However, the crisis hit the headlines again last week as a photo of the body of a lifeless three-year-old boy washed up on the beach shocked the world.
The tragic images brought about a change in public opinion with people all over Europe expressing their support for the refugees.
The hashtag ‘#refugeeswelcome’ trended throughout Europe over the weekend as citizens became fed up of politicians using the excuse that their people did not want to accept anymore asylum seekers.
The Pope addressed pilgrims and tourists in St. Peter’s Square. He said: “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 neighbours to the smallest and most abandoned, to give them concrete hope. It’s not enough to say ‘Have courage, hang in there.’”
He said that two of the Vatican’s parishes will welcome refugee families and called on bishops throughout Europe to ‘express the Gospel in concrete terms and take in a family of refugees.’
Pope Francis added: “May every parish, every religious community, every monastery, every sanctuary in Europe host a family, starting with my diocese of Rome.”