Pope calls for every European parish to take in refugee family
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Pope calls for every European parish to take in refugee family

Pontiff says Vatican will lead by example by giving shelter to two families fleeing war

Pope Francis delivers his blessing to faithful during the Angelus noon prayer from his studio window overlooking St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, Sept. 6, 2015. (AP/Riccardo De Luca)
Pope Francis delivers his blessing to faithful during the Angelus noon prayer from his studio window overlooking St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, Sept. 6, 2015. (AP/Riccardo De Luca)

Pope Francis on Sunday called on every Catholic parish in Europe to take in a refugee family, saying the Vatican’s two parishes would lead by example by taking in two families “fleeing death.”

A Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Ciro Benedettini, quoted the pope’s chief alms-giver as saying the Vatican is now deciding which families will be hosted.

Calling for a “concrete gesture” ahead of a Jubilee Year of Mercy starting in December, the pope urged “every parish, every religious community, every monastery, every sanctuary in Europe [to] take in a family.”

“Faced with the tragedy of tens of thousands of asylum-seekers fleeing death (as) victims of war and hunger who are hoping to start a new life, the gospel calls on us and asks us to be the neighbor of the smallest and the most abandoned, to give them concrete hope,” he said, giving the Angelus blessing in Saint Peter’s Square in Rome.

It’s not just about saying “have courage, be patient,” Francis — who has made poverty and migration a key theme of his papacy — told thousands of faithful gathered in the square.

“Christian hope is more combative,” he said, calling on “Europe’s bishops, the true pastors to back my call in their dioceses.”

Drawing on a gospel story in which Jesus heals a deaf and mute man, the Argentinian-born pontiff said a miracle had also taken place in Europe, where “we have been healed of the deafness of selfishness and the silence of retreating into ourselves.

“The closed couple, the closed family, the closed group, the closed parish, the closed country, that comes from us, it has nothing to do with God,” he stressed.

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