Pope Francis has urged Europeans to take in more refugees, asserting that the best way to combat terrorism is by warmly welcoming migrants and helping them integrate into the “European context.” In a meeting with hundreds of alumni of Jesuit schools in the Vatican on Saturday, Francis told his hearers that authentic hospitality “is our greatest security against hateful acts of terrorism.” With your help, the Pope said, “the Church will be able to respond more fully to the human tragedy of refugees through acts of mercy that promote their integration into the European context and beyond.” Francis continued, “I encourage you to welcome refugees into your homes and communities, so that their first experience of Europe is not the traumatic experience of sleeping cold on the streets, but one of warm human welcome.” “Remember that authentic hospitality is a profound gospel value that nurtures love and is our greatest security against hateful acts of terrorism,” he said. As part of the program of their visit to Rome, the Jesuit alumni are being instructed on immigration and refugees by members of the Jesuit Refugee Service, a humanitarian aid group.
The Pope called Europe’s migrant crisis “the greatest humanitarian crisis, after the Second World War,” while recalling that there are “more than sixty-five million persons” forcibly displaced around the globe, “larger than the entire population of Italy!” The Pope put forward the example of Father Pedro Arrupe, the former superior general of the Jesuit order who founded the Jesuit Refugee Service as a model for Catholics today. “More than ever today, as war rages across God’s creation, as record numbers of refugees die trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea – which has become a cemetery – and refugees spend years and years languishing in camps, the Church needs you to draw on the bravery and example of Father Pedro Arrupe,” he said. As you leave Rome and return home, Francis told the alumni, “I urge you to help transform your communities into places of welcome where all God’s children have the opportunity not simply to survive, but to grow, flourish and bear fruit.” He also recalled the example of the flight of the Holy Family of Joseph, Mary and Jesus who were forced by King Herod to escape into Egypt “as refugees,” fleeing violence and finding refuge among strangers. The Pope cited the words of Jesus, who at the last Judgment will praise the blessed who practiced hospitality. For I was “a stranger and you welcomed me,” Francis said.