Hostility to migrants is unchristian - Pope

2014-09-23 17:28
(Jack Guez, Pool)

(Jack Guez, Pool)

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Vatican City - People who resent or act aggressively towards migrants defy the teachings of the Bible, Pope Francis said on Tuesday.

The announcement follows a mass influx of refugees across the Mediterranean Sea into Europe, with the arrival of more than 120 000 would-be asylum seekers to Italy so far this year.

At least 2 000 of them are estimated to have died while trying to make the sea crossing.

"Large numbers of people are leaving their homelands, with a suitcase full of fears and desires, to undertake a hopeful and dangerous trip in search of more humane living conditions," the pope said in a message for the World Day for Migrants and Refugees, which the Catholic Church will celebrate on 18 January.

"Often, however, such migration gives rise to suspicion and hostility, even in ecclesial communities, prior to any knowledge of the migrants' lives or their stories of persecution and destitution," Francis said.

"In such cases, suspicion and prejudice conflict with the biblical commandment of welcoming with respect and solidarity the stranger in need," he added.

Francis has repeatedly spoken out for the rights of migrants and other destitute people. Following his election in March 2013, the pope made his first trip to Lampedusa, an Italian island that is often the first port of call for Europe-bound sea migrants.

In his latest message, he said solidarity towards migrants and refugees should be accompanied by "a more just and equitable financial and economic order, as well as an increasing commitment to peace, the indispensable condition for all authentic progress."

Read more on:    pope francis  |  vatican city

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