Everything Pope Francis Said About The Migrant Crisis

The pope has made migration a focus of his pontificate

Pope Francis at the Vatican. — REUTERS
Sep 06, 2015 at 5:18 PM ET

Pope Francis on Sunday called on Catholics across Europe to take in refugees, saying that the even Vatican will take in two families over the next few days. The pope has made the refugee crisis a key issue of his pontificate since he was sworn in over two years ago.

Many argue that it took a tragic photo of a dead Syrian child and the discovery of 71 dead migrants in a bus for the world to wake up to the horrors of the migrant crisis. But the pope has been saying for years that the issue is a moral one that effects everyone.

Here’s what the pope has said and done to encourage aid for the hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants seeking better lives in Europe:

  • On Sunday, Pope Francis told a crowd in St. Peters Square: “May every parish, every religious community, every monastery, every sanctuary in Europe host a family.” There are around 120,000 parishes in Europe, according to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University.
  • In late August, the pope initiated a silent prayer for the 71 migrants who died in an abandoned truck in Austria. He invited the crowd in St. Peter’s Square to pray silently for the refugees who died “on their terrible journeys,” praying god would “help us to cooperate effectively to impede these crimes, which offend the entire human family.”
  • In April, Pope Francis told Italian president Sergio Mattarella that the migrant crisis deserved more action from European nations. “It is evident that the proportions of the phenomenon demand much greater involvement,” he said. “We must never tire of appealing for a more extensive commitment on the European and international level.” Earlier that week, an estimated 450 people drowned on their journey from Libya to Italy.
  • In September last year, the pope called for countries to join efforts to help migrants on their perilous journeys in search of better lives. “Large numbers of people are leaving their homelands, with a suitcase full of fears and desires, to undertake a hopeful and dangerous trip in search of more humane living conditions,” he said.
  • Pope Francis’ first trip as pontiff in 2013 was to Lampedusa, a tiny Italian island where 300 people arriving from Eritrea in East Africa died when their boat capsized in 2012. “Many people obligated to migrate suffer and frequently die tragically. Many of their rights are violated, they are forced to leave their families and unfortunately continue being the object of racist and xenophobic attitudes,” he said.