Time: 3:17 p.m. CEST
Pope Francis brought 12 Muslim refugees from Syria to Rome on board the papal plane after he visited Greece on Saturday. Among the refugees are six children, part of three families, the Vatican said in a statement. The Vatican would care for them after Pope Francis visited the Greek island of Lesbos.
“We have come to call the attention of the world to this grave humanitarian crisis and to plead for its resolution,” Francis said during a lunchtime visit to the Moria refugee camp on Lesbos, where he was joined by leaders of Eastern Orthodox Christian churches, the International New York Times writes.
In speaking at the refugee camp, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the spiritual leader of the world’s Eastern Orthodox Christians, bluntly reminded Europeans, and their leaders, that Christians and others are judged on how they treat the weak and powerless.
“The world will be judged by the way it has treated you,” Bartholomew told the refugees. “And we will all be accountable for the way we respond to the crisis and conflict in the regions that you come from. The Mediterranean Sea should not be a tomb.”
Pope Francis had a private meeting with Greece’s Prime minister Alexis Tsipras, before he travelled to Moria, where the refugees wait either for approval of asylum applications, or deportation under a recent agreement between the European Union and Turkey. Tsipras called on the EU to help country as it faces the challenge of the refugee crisis.
This is not the first visit of Pope Francis related to the refugees issues. In 2013 he was at the Italian island of Lampedusa, where he called for an attention to the refugees arriving from Libya. In February, when he visited Mexico, Pope Francis prayed in Ciuadad Juarez, close to the Mexican border with the United States.
In the recent months, across Europe, the mood for the refugees changed from “open doors” to closed routes and growing public anxiety over the influx of refugees. Far-right parties with anti-immigrant sentiments used the crisis to make political gains, the Times writes.