Speaking in St. Peter’s Square, crowds applauded as Pope Francis encouraged each European parish to take in at least one refugee family each. There is a personal connection with the proclamation. Francis himself is the grandson of Italian migrants who came to Argentina.
Catholic parishes, convents, and monasteries across Europe are being called upon to shelter refugee families currently flooding Western Europe.
Pope Francis also announced that the Vatican will offer shelter to two families of refugees who are “fleeing death” — from war or hunger.
“Faced with the tragedy of tens of thousands of refugees who are fleeting death by war and by hunger, and who are on a path toward a hope for life, the Gospel calls us to be neighbors to the smallest and most abandoned, to give them concrete hope,” Pope Francis said.
It’s not enough to say, “Have courage, hang in there,” Pope Francis said. “May every parish, every religious community, every monastery, every sanctuary of Europe, take in one family, starting with my diocese of Rome.”
A tiny city-state unto itself, some of the Vatican’s citizens live in apartments within the ancient walls. It has two parish churches, including St. Peter’s Basilica. The Pope says that two of the Vatican’s parishes will welcome two refugee families.
The Vatican is now deciding which families will be hosted, Vatican representative, the Rev. Ciro Benedettini said.
In the meantime, Finland’s Prime Minister, Juha Sipila plans to make his home available to refugees. The millionaire Prime Minister of Finland, who has another house near the capital Helsinki as well as a government residence, says that the building in Kempele was little used at the moment.
“We should all take a look in the mirror and ask how we can help,” Sipila said in an interview.
The first refugees are expected to start staying at Sipila’s country home from the start of 2016.
British Prime Minister David Cameron announced last week that the United Kingdom is to increase its aid budget to more than Ł1 billion, and promised to take “thousands” of Syrian refugees living in refugee camps.