Pope returns to Vatican with 12 refugees

Pope returns to Vatican with 12 refugees
Pope Francis visited Lesbos on Saturday to visit Syrian and Iraqi refugees stranded on the Greek island. He returned to Rome bringing 12 refugees with him.
3 min read
17 Apr, 2016
The pope's visit was seen as a show of solidarity for Syrian refugees [Getty]

The leader of the Catholic Church made an emotional visit to Greece on Saturday, where he met some of the thousands of Syrian refugees stranded on the island of Lesbos due to a European anti-migrant clampdown.

Scenes of refugees weeping and kissing Pope Francis' feet shocked many in the world.

But it also highlights the terrible conditions refugees on the island endure having already made the dangerous journey across the Aegean Sea from Turkey.

Pope Francis prayed for the many victims who have died making the crossing to Europe. Many of the refugees who made it to the Greek camps will likely be forced to return back to Turkey.

While Fortress Europe closes its drawbridge - making the situation even worse for refugees - Pope Francis made a token gesture of solidarity with the men, women and children living a life in limbo.

The pope returned back to the Vatican with 12 refugees - all Muslims - who will be housed by the Holy See.

He told reporters on his flight back to Rome that the gesture was "a drop in the ocean [but] the ocean will never be the same again... All refugees are children of God".

Responses to the pope's act have been mixed. Many believe that the Vatican - with all its wealth and countless properties - could and should do more to assist refugees.

But most have also supported Pope Francis' visit, believing that his act of compassion for some of these refugees was a poweful statement against rising anti-migrant sentiments in Europe - including in Catholic-majority countries - and the EU's treatment of the displaced.

Meanwhile, the Vatican is viewed by many as more liberal in its affairs under the guidance of Pope Francis.

"Leaders of the world take note you don't build nations using violence and bigotry
but with love. Pope Francis could be one of the greatest men in human history."

Pope Francis has visited refugees on the Greek islands while no Arab president
or even religious leaders have thought of visiting them out of compassion.