Reminding his fellow Christians that they have a moral obligation to show hospitality to strangers, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew said that Europeans should take inspiration from the generosity of Greeks confronted with a mass influx to their country.
Bartholomew, the spiritual leader of the Eastern Orthodox Church— the second largest Christian denomination in the world— urged Europe to stop dividing economic migrants from asylum seekers. His remarks were published in an Italian newspaper a few days ahead of a trip to the Greek island of Lesvos this weekend where he will accompany Pope Francis of the Roman Catholic Church.
“This question (of refugees) puts me in mind of St Paul’s letter to the Hebrews in which he reminds us not to forget hospitality because those who offer it have sometimes hosted angels without knowing it,” Bartholomew told Italian daily Il Messaggero.
“Hospitality represents a concrete example of love for our neighbor and the way all Christians should live their lives.”
The patriarch also said in the interview that Saturday’s trip to Lesvos would “send a strong message in every direction”.
“At this historic time and with the way the refugee crisis is developing, those people who can exercise influence have to work in this spirit.”
Bartholomew also took jabs at European policies of distinguishing between economic and asylum-seeking refugees and migrants, telling the Italian newspaper that “The globalization of the world economy has created a serious crisis of identity for the contemporary world, hunger and misery in many parts of our planet, and this offends God himself.
“The segregation of certain groups of people to the advantage of others does not reflect His desire and in this context we must seek new and fairer economic systems.”