Pope Francis has continuously called for compassion and empathy in the face of the biggest refugee crisis Europe has faced since World War II.
He maintained that message on Saturday when he paid a visit to the Greek island of Lesbos, where thousands upon thousands of refugees find out if they will be allowed to continue to mainland Europe or be sent back across the sea to Turkey. However, he made an unexpected announcement at the end of his visit. Three families would be taken back to Rome with the Pope on his jet.
And they were. The Pope’s aides sorted out who had been cleared by authorities to migrate to Europe. From there they randomly drew names out of a box. Eligibility according to EU policy was the only form of screening used. According to the Pope himself “everything was done according to the rules.”
“They have their documents. The Holy See, the Greek government and the Italian government have checked everything.”
The Pope didn’t take credit for the idea, saying one of his aides suggested it and he agreed. He added that once they settle in, the refugees will be given assistance with integrating into European life and finding employment.
“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,” a Vatican statement said, adding that they were all Muslims.
“It’s a drop of water in the sea,” the Pope said, quoting Mother Teresa, “but after this drop, the sea will never be the same.”