As he returned to an island that has become a symbol of Europe’s refugee crisis, Pope Francis yesterday chided world leaders for their “cynical disregard” of the plight of migrants. Source: NCR Online.
The Pope’s visit was brief and his message direct: indifference kills.
“Stop ignoring reality, stop constantly shifting responsibility, stop passing off the issue of migration to others, as if it mattered to no one and was only a pointless burden to be shouldered by somebody else,” Francis pleaded during his return visit.
Over the last decade, hundreds of thousands of refugees escaping violence across the Middle East have passed through Lesbos, many seeking permanent relocation in Europe. When Francis first visited in April 2016 – and memorably brought 12 refugees to the Vatican – 1.3 million people sought asylum in Europe that year.
“History teaches us that narrow self-interest and nationalism lead to disastrous consequences,” he said during his two-hours on the island.
As he spoke against a backdrop of refugee shelters along the shores of the Aegean Sea, Francis cited the global vaccination campaign and the fight against climate change, saying that while these efforts are at times stalled, he believes progress is being made.
“All this seems to be terribly absent when it comes to migration,” he said. “Yet human lives, real people, are at stake!”
At the time of his last visit, more than 5000 migrants had died that year at sea as they attempted to cross from mainland Turkey to Greece.
“Let us stop this shipwreck of civilisation,” the Pope urged. “The Mediterranean, which for millennia has brought different peoples and distant lands together, is now becoming a grim cemetery without tombstones,” he lamented. “This great basin of water, the cradle of so many civilisations, now looks like a mirror of death.”
"Shake us from an individualism that excludes others, to awaken hearts that are deaf to the needs of our neighbours," Francis said as he concluded a rousing address meant to stir the consciences of global leaders and Catholics alike.
"I ask every man and woman, all of us, to overcome the paralysis of fear, the indifference that kills, the cynical disregard that nonchalantly condemns to death those on the fringes."
Returning to migrant hotspot of Lebos, Pope Francis chides world leaders for an ‘indifference that kills’ (By Christopher White, NCR Online)
Pope Francis on Lesbos: Stop this shipwreck of civilization (Vatican News)