Culture Ethics Institutions Politics

Pope Francis: Seek forgiveness for shutting out refugees

A group of 300 sub-Saharan Africans sit in board a boat during a rescue operation by the Italian Finance Police vessel Di Bartolo (not pictured) off the coast of Sicily, on May 14, 2015. Around 1100 migrants were rescued off the coast of Sicily, about 130 miles from Lampedusa, according to the police. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-POPE-IMMIGRANTS, originally transmitted on June 17, 2015.
A group of 300 sub-Saharan Africans sit in board a boat during a rescue operation by the Italian Finance Police vessel Di Bartolo (not pictured) off the coast of Sicily, on May 14, 2015. Around 1100 migrants were rescued off the coast of Sicily, about 130 miles from Lampedusa, according to the police. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi  *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-POPE-IMMIGRANTS, originally transmitted on June 17, 2015.

Three hundred sub-Saharan Africans sit onboard a boat during a rescue operation by the Italian Finance Police vessel Di Bartolo (not pictured) off the coast of Sicily on May 14, 2015. Around 1,100 migrants were rescued off the coast of Sicily, about 130 miles from Lampedusa, according to the police. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
*Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-POPE-IMMIGRANTS, originally transmitted on June 17, 2015.

VATICAN CITY (RNS) Pope Francis on Wednesday (June 17) said people who shut out refugees should seek forgiveness, after clashes on Italy’s borders as European countries try to push back against a wave of migrants fleeing by boat from Libya.

Addressing crowds in St. Peter’s Square, Francis drew his followers’ attention to the U.N.’s World Refugee Day this Saturday.

“It is my hope that the international community should act in a fitting and effective way to prevent the causes of forced migration,” the pontiff said. He called on Catholics to pray for people “who seek a home where they can live without fear” and praised those who help refugees.

The pontiff also picked out those who have failed to support refugees: “I invite everyone to ask forgiveness for those persons and institutions that close the doors on these people who are searching for family, that are searching for safety.”

Francis’ appeal follows clashes at Italy’s northwest border as riot police forcibly removed migrants who had been refused permission to enter France.

Countries neighboring Italy have recently upped security and returned migrants who had crossed the border, despite European Union rules stipulating the migrants must stay in Italy until their visa or asylum application is processed.

Rome has, however, argued that European nations must do more to share the burden of new arrivals, as 200,000 are estimated to reach Italy by sea this year.

The pope has repeatedly expressed his support for migrants and refugees, in 2013 visiting the Italian island of Lampedusa, which is an arrival point for many people taking the journey across the Mediterranean.

LM/MG END SCAMMELL

About the author

Rosie Scammell

Rosie Scammell is a British journalist with extensive experience reporting for leading international news organizations. She has been based in Italy since 2012 and covers the Vatican for RNS.

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  • It is all well and good to be compassionate when it comes to people fleeing poverty and oppression, but there is a time when compassion has to take the back seat to a country’s future and stability! I will bet that 95% of these people are illerate and without any skills to be productive and self-supporting! Look what is happening in the U.K. and Europe, now.: The migrants are overloading social services; causing social disruption in the culture of the country and will be pandered to by any political party to get their vote! Soon the cultural fabric of the country is eroded and its Heritage compromised! To those who say “so what” are the ones who are ‘safe’ from having to face that reality. lol.’

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