Pope calls for ‘harmonized response’ to migrant crisis in Greece

Refugees and migrants find shelter outside a passenger terminal near Athens, Greece, Feb. 29. (CNS photo/Yannis Kolesidis, EPA)

Countries like Greece that are on the front line of the migrant crisis need the cooperation of all nations to help those fleeing from "wars and other inhuman situations," Pope Francis said.

"A harmonized response can be effective and equally distribute the weight," he said Feb. 28 after reciting the Angelus with visitors gathered in St. Peter's Square.

Advertisement

Thousands of Syrian and Iraqi refugees were stranded in Idomeni, Greece, in late February after Balkan countries announced a daily cap of migrants crossing their borders. Greek officials estimated that up to 70,000 migrants may be trapped in the country in the coming month, according to Agence France-Presse.

Noting the generosity of countries like Greece, which are handling the growing influx of migrants, the pope called on European Union member states to "focus decisively and unreservedly on negotiations" to assist nations receiving refugees.

The pope also expressed his hope that a cease-fire in Syria might bring humanitarian relief to the suffering population and "open the path to a much-desired dialogue and peace."

In his remarks before reciting the Angelus prayer, the pope said that tragedies, accidents and catastrophes are often misinterpreted as a sign of divine punishment from God.

He said the day's Gospel reading (Lk 13: 1-9), shows Jesus' awareness of his listeners' "superstitious mentality" in the face of two tragic events: the Roman suppression at a temple and the falling of the tower of Siloam that killed 18 people.

"In fact, they thought that, if those people had died in such a way, cruelly, it was a sign that God had punished them for some grave sin they had committed, as if saying 'they deserved it.' And on the other hand, the fact of being saved from such a disgrace made them feel 'good about themselves,'" the pope said.

The same temptation to "unload" responsibility on victims or on God exists in the face of today's tragedies, the pope said, and he called on Christians to change their hearts and not follow the path of hypocrisy.

"How many times we have thought this: 'But I'm basically good; I'm a good person' and justify ourselves," the pope said.

Pope Francis prayed that, through Mary's intercession, Christians may "never judge others, but rather allow daily misfortunes to provoke us into making a serious examination of our consciences."

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

Advertisement

The latest from america

Youths attending a pre-synod meeting participate in the Way of the Cross at the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome on March 23. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
The meeting of the Synod of Bishops on young people is an opportunity for an ongoing conversation between everyday lived experience and church teachings.
Michele DillonSeptember 21, 2018
Pope Francis ends his official visit to Vilnius on Sunday evening at the Museum of Occupations and Freedom Fights, housed in the former headquarters of the K.G.B.
Edward W. Schmidt, S.J.September 21, 2018
Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark told the people of his archdiocese Sept. 21 that Pope Francis has granted his request that he stay at home to remain with them during this "time of crisis" in the U.S. church.
Catholic News ServiceSeptember 21, 2018
Girls gather for celebrations marking the feast of the Assumption in August 2012 in Aglona, Latvia. Twenty-five years after St. John Paul II visited Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, Pope Francis will make the same three-nation visit Sept. 22-25, stopping at a number of the same places as his saint-predecessor. (CNS photo/Ints Kalinins, Reuters)
He is the second pope to visit these Baltic nations. John Paul II came to the region in September 1993, after the collapse of communism, and was welcomed as a hero. Pope Francis comes exactly 25 years later, but much has changed since that first papal visit.
Gerard O’ConnellSeptember 21, 2018