Pope Francis, who has repeatedly called on Europe to open its doors to more migrants, stated Tuesday that governments have the right to carefully assess their capacity to effectively integrate those arriving from abroad.
“I think that, in theory, you can’t close your heart to a refugee,” the pope said while flying back from a two-day visit to Sweden.
“Governments must be open to receive them, but also do the calculations regarding their reception [capabilities], because one must not only receive a refugee but also integrate them,” he added.
The Pope is currently in Sweden to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Revolution, in which Protestants broke from the Catholic Church in the 16th Century.
Last year Europe saw an influx of more than one million asylum seekers in the worst such crisis since World War II.
The migrant crisis has led to a political backlash in many European countries, as parties such as the Alternative for Germany (AfD) in Germany and the National Front in France have surged in popularity due to their strong rhetoric against immigrants and foreigners.
“It isn’t human to close the doors and the hearts,” the pope argued, adding that in the long run there would be political gains to be had by being more welcoming.
Sweden has a long tradition of accepting foreigners, and let in 245,000 refugees in 2014 and 2015.
Times of Israel Staff contributed to this report
© 2016 Agence France-Presse