Pope Francis Visits a Syrian Refugee Family

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Riccardo De Luca / AP

Pope Francis waves as he arrives at a the Astalli Center canteen as asylum seekers and refugees line up to get their meal in Rome, Sept. 10, 2013.

Pope Francis made a private visit to the Astalli refugee center in Rome on Tuesday, and, while meeting with several hundred refugees, singled out a Syrian family to listen to their story. The family was given time with the pope during the visit to represent the present emergency in their homeland, an Astalli representative told Radio Vaticana. The Pope also talked with a Sudanese man.

Astalli is a high-volume refugee center run by Pope Francis’ own Jesuit order—more than 21 thousand refugees, from regions including Afghanistan, Egypt, and sub-Saharan Africa, passed through Centro Astalli last year. Many of the undocumented migrants are Muslims fleeing violence in the Middle East and Africa. The center, a branch of the Jesuit Refugee Service, offers three shelters, a language school, and health and legal services, as well as special care for victims of torture who need psychiatric or psychological care.

Pope Francis has prioritized refugees from the very beginning of his papacy. In April, he called the head of the Centro Astalli on his cell phone and promised that he would come visit. In July, his first official trip as pontiff was to the Sicilian island of Lampedusa to commemorate the thousands of migrants who have died crossing the sea from northern Africa. “We have become used to other people’s suffering, it doesn’t concern us, it doesn’t interest us, it’s none of our business!” he preached then. “Their condition cannot leave us indifferent.”

It is a message Pope Francis continues to advocate in the midst of the Syrian crisis. At his Vigil for Peace on Saturday, he urged people around the world to care for the people torn apart by war and violence: “Am I really my brother’s keeper? Yes, you are your brother’s keeper! To be human means to care for one another! […] Forgiveness, dialogue, reconciliation—these are the words of peace, in beloved Syria, in the Middle East, in all the world!”

Update, 11:49am, EST: The Syrian refugee, named Carol, told Pope Francis, “The Syrians in Europe feel a great responsibility to not be a burden, we want to be an active part of a new society.” He responded to her words in his address to the refugees. “This too is a right!” he said, and then asked if the people of the world would accompany refugees on this journey.

8 comments
ulstrength
ulstrength

Always have teary eyes every time I read about this Pope. Got three Pope in my lifetime and this Pope is superb. He is such a very good soul.


TheDisclosure
TheDisclosure

This pope is much better than Benedict. I'm not affiliated with religion, rather personal spirituality; and this man's values are top notch in my opinion. 

theatercritic
theatercritic

in new york city with it playwright larry myers pens a play about  the now Pope Francis called "Pope Francis Sketchbook" attempting to comprehend his innovative stances....dr myers runs      rwm playwrights lab

jenny000
jenny000

...  wow, what a initiative ...   I feel that this Pope will do a lot to reconcile the main religions of the world....no more wars in the name of God.....

@wjotahache
@wjotahache

As Pope´s countryman I fell proud but, more than proud I fell the need to follow his example and faith. 

Heizzzenberg
Heizzzenberg

lead by example...I really like this guy

anon76
anon76

It's hard not to like this pope!