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Pope decries selfish approach to refugees

1 October 20190 comments

Pope Francis has criticised countries that produce weapons for wars fought elsewhere and then refuse to take in refugees fleeing the very same conflicts.

The 82-year-old Argentine pope, whose parents were of Italian immigrant stock, has made the defence of migrants and refugees a major feature of his pontificate and has often clashed over immigration policy with US President Donald Trump and populist anti-immigrant politicians in Europe.

Pope Francis has also criticised the arms trade repeatedly and his recent sermon for 40,000 people in St Peter’s Square linked the issues of war and migration as the Roman Catholic Church marked its World Day of Migrants and Refugees.

“Wars only affect some regions of the world, yet weapons of war are produced and sold in other regions which are then unwilling to take in the refugees generated by these conflicts,” Pope Francis said.

The mass was attended by many immigrants and groups helping them. It was also marked by a mix of African, Spanish and Portuguese music as well as traditional Church music.

Pope Francis said the world is becoming increasingly “elitist and cruel toward the excluded”, adding that it is the duty of Christians to look after all those left behind in a “throwaway culture” taking root in society.

“This means being a neighbour to all those who are mistreated and abandoned on the streets of our world, soothing their wounds and bringing them to the nearest shelter, where their needs can be met,” he said.

People could not remain indifferent to “the bleak isolation, contempt and discrimination experienced by those who do not belong to ‘our’ group,” the pope said.

Pope Francis then inaugurated a large statue in St. Peter’s Square, showing dozens of migrants and refugees from different faiths and different periods of history.

He also slammed “the culture of comfort” that leads to indifference in the face of a global migration and refugee crisis.

“We cannot be indifferent to the tragedy of old and new forms of poverty, to the bleak isolation, contempt and discrimination experienced by those who do not belong to ‘our group,’” Pope Francis said.

“We cannot remain insensitive, our hearts deadened, before the misery of so many innocent people. We must not fail to weep. We must not fail to respond,” he said.