Tens of thousands of Christian and Muslim refugees from Syria, Eritrea and Afghanistan, continue to swarm into Northern Europe. The good news is that not only borders but hearts have been opened to those seeking sanctuary. In spite of opposition from some nationalist groups, the pendulum seems to be swinging in favor of providing asylum following the example of Germany
On Sunday Pope Francis added his voice calling on “every parish, every religious community, every monastery, every sanctuary of Europe, [to] take in one refugee family.” And, by way of example, Pope Francis said the two parishes in Vatican City would each take in one family. If the European parishes, religious houses and shrines respond to the Pope’s request, the impact would be considerable.
Crux noted in reporting the story that, “In practice, the Pope’s appeal means that more than 300 refugee families could find shelter in Rome, given the number of churches in the city. France has an estimated 16,000 parishes up and down the country, Italy has 26,000, Germany has 11,000, and Spain has 22,859. Those numbers increase dramatically when monasteries, religious communities, and shrines are included.”
Asking the European bishops to support his suggestion, the Holy Father said that offering shelter to the needy is a “concrete act of preparation” for the Holy Year. Then addressing the crowd in St. Peter’s Plaza, the Holy Father remarked that, “Before the tragedy of tens of thousands of refugees fleeing death in conflict and hunger … on a journey of hope, the Gospel has always called us to be close to the smallest and to those who have been abandoned.”
Photo credit: Zoriah.net
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