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Rome Reports

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Pope Francis tells students to see refugees as brothers and sisters rather than numbers

Pope Francis visited a group of students gathered in Rome participating in the Fratelli Tutti Political School organized by Scholas Occurrentes, an education initiative which aims to promote dialogue and respect among students from around the world. 

Masked students presented the Pope with a musical performance and interpretive dance.

He then heard the testimonies of two students participating in Scholas programs.

-"I have been able to transmit my fears, my insecurities, I've shown my tears, but also so many smiles."

Pope Francis explained the value of creativity to the students, and urged them not to hide their personalities behind masks. 

"A community without creativity is like this mask, where everyone has not only a uniform face but also a uniform heart, and where feelings are shut down so too are shut down interior emotions."

The Pope then responded to a question from a Rwandan student whose family was forced to flee their country and resettle in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and highlighted the challenges refugees continue to face today. 

"When we talk about refugees, let's not talk about numbers, let's talk about our brothers and sisters who had to escape. And some couldn't make it and were taken, to those concentration camps that exist, and I am referring to those on the Lebanese coast. Traffickers, the same ones who put them on boats then take them when they are sent back."

He went on to say how Refugees make the difficult decision to leave their countries by discerning their feelings, just as young people should do. 

"A refugee leaves home because of a feeling, a feeling of liberty, a feeling of justice. I ask each of you young people, you, your feelings, do you let them grow in order to discern them, or do you cover them. If you cover your feelings they will explode, and they explode badly, in the social conduct which we see each day."

Pope Francis gave a final blessing to all those present, and stopped to greet many of the organizers as he made his way out.