Pope Francis visited Lesbos, Greece, today to stand in solidarity with refugees facing an uncertain situation as European countries debate their response to the growing crisis. Upon Pope Francis’s departure the Vatican announced that three refugee families would join Pope Francis for the return trip to Rome to be offered refuge at the Vatican. The Vatican released the following statement according to Catholic News Service:
The Pope has desired to make a gesture of welcome regarding refugees, accompanying on his plane to Rome three families of refugees from Syria, 12 people in all, including six children. These are all people who are already in camps in Lesbos before the agreement between the European Union and Turkey.
The Pope’s Initiative was brought to fruition through negotiations carried out by the Secretariat of State with the competent Greek and Italian authorities. All members of the three families are Muslims. Two families come from Damascus, and one from Deir Azzor (in an area occupied by Daesh). Their homes had been bombed.
The Vatican will take responsibility for bringing in and maintaining the three families. The initial hospitality will be taken care of by the Community of Sant’Edigio. [SOURCE: Catholic News Service]
The following is Pope Francis’s address at the Greek Presidium of the Coast Guard in Lesbos [SOURCE: Vatican] where he addressed the refugee crisis directly: