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Pope Francis, on the plane back from Lesbos: "I felt like crying”

2016-04-18

Pope Francis surprised again during his return trip to Lesbos. On the way, there were many empty seats on the plane. Who would have suspected that these seats were reserved for 12 Muslim refugees, who would be welcomed to the Vatican by the Pope?

POPE FRANCIS
"It was an inspiration from a week ago that a collaborator of mine had, and I accepted immediately because I realized it was the Holy Spirit speaking."

He explained that after this moment, the Vatican began the legal proceedings to set this unusual initiative in motion. He recognizes, however, that this initiative does not resolve the plight of refugees.

POPE FRANCIS
"Mother Teresa was once asked: 'Why all this effort and work just to accompany people to their graves?... What you do is not working. The ocean is too big!' And she said, 'It's a drop of water in the sea, but after this drop, the sea will no longer be the same.' I answer in the same way. It is a small gesture, but all of  us men and women need to make small gestures to lend a hand to those in need.”

He said it is understandable that in Europe the arrival of refugees can be seen as a threat, but said the solution is not to build walls.

He noted that the Old Continent is facing the challenge of integration, a challenge that must not be tackled defensively, but by putting yourself in the place of another to see things with their eyes.

"Do not lose these drawings. Put them on my desk. All this is a symbol.”

POPE FRANCIS
"I can understand those who have certain fears. After what I saw, what you saw, in that refugee camp, I felt like crying...it would move you to tears. What have these children seen… Here is a drawing of a little boy drowning. They have this image in their hearts, today was really enough to move one to tears. I invite arms traffickers to spend a day in that refugee camp. I think it would do them good."

Francis said he left especially affected by his visit to the refugee camp. During the outbound flight he had been warned that this would be a sad journey, yet he still went to meet what he considers the world's worst catastrophe since World War II.


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