Pope Francis Leads By Example As He Takes In Syrian Refugees

Pope Francis just ended his visit to a refugee center in Greece by taking 12 Syrian refugees home with him. All of them were Muslim and six of them were children. All had left after their homes were bombed.

It was a surprise ending to the pope’s trip. According to The Washington Post, the decision to take home refugees was a “last-minute” inspiration by Pope Francis and finalized last week. The three families were selected in a sort of lottery, a process that was still not completed as late as Friday night, The Washington Post reported.

Thousands of refugees are trapped on the Greek island of Lesbos now that European leaders have closed their borders to them. The Washington Post also gives a hint of the desperation these refugees must live with by reporting that:

“Several people knelt at [Francis’] feet, weeping uncontrollably. Periodic chants of ‘Freedom! Freedom!’ broke out in the crowd, punctuated by the cries of babies and young children.”

Pope Francis also offered up a prayer that was an indirect critique of European hard-heartedness:

“’May we… recognise that together, as one human family, we are all migrants.”

He also added that:

“We hope that the world will heed these scenes of tragic and indeed desperate need, and respond in a way worthy of our common humanity.”

But nothing speaks louder than the pope’s actions. In addition to the refugees, Pope Francis also took home some refugee children’s drawings.

The New York Times reported that:

“One showed children drowning in the sea. The other showed the sun crying.”

They also reported Pope Francis as saying:

“The children have these things in their minds, and it will take time before these memories go away. If the sun is able to cry, so can we. A tear will do us good.”

The Vatican previously took in two refugee families last fall. The 12 Syrian refugees just taken in will be cared for in a collaboration by both The Vatican and the Catholic community of Sant’Egidio.

Featured image via Getty Images/Handout

Ellen Brodsky is a long time blogger for NewsHounds.us and a contributor to Crooks and Liars. She has also worked as a researcher for Brave New Films' landmark documentary, "Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism" and "Iraq for Sale."