The Pope visited the Greek island of Lesbos today, where thousands of migrants are being held. They wait to find out whether or not they will be allowed to settle in Europe or not, as a new deal between the EU and Turkey puts their future in jeopardy.
The Pope spoke incredibly kind words to the people there. In his speech he said:
“God created mankind to be one family; when any of our brothers and sisters suffer, we are all affected. We all know from experience how easy it is for some to ignore other people’s suffering and even to exploit their vulnerability.” He came to the island to listen and to meet with these migrants.
And he even left with some of them.
The refugees on the island were entered into lots, and 12 of them (Three families with six total children) left with the Pope to be cared for by the Sant’Egidio community. This is a group known for their charity. This community has been around since 1968, where they have helped set up hospices for AIDS patients, and they even published a handbook for the homeless of Rome, telling them free places to eat, sleep and bathe. This community has helped thousands across the world, and their branches are set up in at least 70 countries.
And just like that, we are back in Rome. Except Pope Francis brought 12 refugees from Syria w him. pic.twitter.com/eSnvjKRgXt
— Jim Yardley (@JimBYardley) April 16, 2016
The Pope has done an excellent job highlighting what others seem to miss. In a crisis such as this, we tend to think of the trend, and think in gross numbers. We hear that thousands are coming every day, and some people get scared,a s they feel many are terrorists, hellbent on destroying Europe. But the truth is, most are not. Most of these refugees are just like us, trying to build a better life for their children because ISIS/Assad/Al Qaeda/The Taliban/etc.. took their home from them, and destroyed all feelings of safety in their home. They need our support, not our fear. As Pope Francis 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