Pope Francis made a pilgrimage to the Greek island of Lesbos last week, visited a fenced-in refugee center and returned to Rome with three families of Syrian Muslim refugees. The 12 migrants joined the Pope on his plane after a five-hour visit at the Moria detention center.
The Pope urged European leaders to do more to help the thousands of refugees currently waiting in camps. “I have always said that building walls is not a solution… We must build bridges,” the Pontiff proclaimed.
Asked whether Europe can possibly open its arms to all the misery in the world, the Pope noted that the factions fighting in Syria have been armed by others. Whatever that means. After this non-sequitur, the Pope continued, “I would invite the producers of arms to spend a day in the camp (in Lesbos). I believe that would be good.” Okay. Would he like all of the world's automobile manufacturers to spend some time with every family that's ever had a loved one killed or maimed in a car accident, too? Should fast-food providers and confectioners be expected to visit weight-loss clinics on a regular basis?
At any rate, the 12 immigrants will be cared for in Rome by a Catholic lay organization.
While some see the Pontiff’s continual advocacy on behalf of immigrants both legal and illegal as provocative, travel agent Maria Androulaki disagrees. “I don’t see anything negative in the Pope’s visit,” she said. “All the world’s eyes will be on Lesbos. Millions of people will learn about Lesbos and the island will be televised throughout the world.” I couldn't have said it better myself.
As for the Pope’s repeatedly-stated aversion to walls, it should be noted that the Vatican itself is virtually surrounded by a 39-foot-high wall, a fact the globe-trotting Bishop of Rome appears to have forgotten. I have visions of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad standing outside of the Vatican, pointing to the wall and stating, “Pope Francis, if you truly believe in the free and unfettered movement of people across borders and around the globe, come to the Vatican. Pope Francis, tear down this wall!”
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