Pope Francis challenged European leaders to respond to the massive refugee crisis “in a way worthy of our common humanity” and suggested the Europe remember its heritage and roots as “the homeland of human rights” during a quick visit to the Greek island of Lesvos on Saturday, April 16, 2016, where he was accompanied by the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew, and Archbishop Ieronymos if Greece.
The Pope made a provocative gesture, calling out many heavily Catholic European countries that have closed their borders to refugees and returned to Rome with a dozen refugees and promised to help them start their new lives there.
Patriarch Bartholomew, spiritual leader of the world’s second largest Christian church and Archbishop Ieronymos, head of the self-governing Church of Greece, used especially strong language to criticize European immigration policies. “Those who are afraid of you do not see your faces,” Bartholomew told the detainees. “The world will be judged by the way it has treated you.”
Photos from Lesvos visit of Religious Leaders:
“Europe today faces one of its most serious humanitarian crises since the end of the Second World War. To meet this grave challenge, we appeal to all followers of Christ to be mindful of the Lord’s words, on which we will one day be judged: «For I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you took me in; I was naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you visited me; I was in prison and you came to me… Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me» (Mt 25:35-36, 40).”
Pope Francis, Archbishop Ieronimos (front) and Greek Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartolomew I (back) prepare to throw flower wreaths in the sea in memoriam of the refugees that lost their lives in their effort to reach Europe.