Pope Francis Urges Churches To Shelter Refugees

by Jo Yurcaba

At the end of his Angelus prayers in Rome Sunday, Pope Francis urged European churches to shelter refugees, according to The New York Times. Francis called on all parishes, religious communities, monasteries, and sanctuaries to take in at least one refugee family each. He said that the Vatican's two parishes would be taking in two families to help lead the effort.

Francis told the thousands of people who gathered in St. Peter's Square that it's not enough to tell refugees to "have courage, hang in there," because many of the refugees and migrants are searching for a better life. He asked any church that could house a family to do so, and he even asked bishops to use their dioceses to do the same, according to the Associated Press.

The pope wasn't the first to call on Europeans to help shelter the thousands of migrants and refugees crossing the Mediterranean Sea in search of protection from persecution, war, or in search of better jobs. Irish singer-songwriter and activist Bob Geldof has pledged to house four families in his Kent and London homes until "they can get a purchase on the future," according to The Guardian. Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Labour Party Leadership Contender Yvette Cooper also both pledged to open their homes to refugees fleeing from war in Syria.


Even normal European citizens have started taking action in the midst of the crisis. More than 2,000 Britons have offered to house refugees in their own homes after one woman, Zoe Fritz from Cambridgeshire, set up an online database of people who would be willing to offer food and shelter to those fleeing persecution, according to the U.K.'s Press Association. Fritz said that she set up the database she feels that the U.K. should be doing more to help migrants and refugees:

It is very strange as humans that distance stops us [from] doing things. If you had someone who needed shelter outside your house you would take them in, but because you can't see them you don't do it. I had hoped for 1,000 [signatures] in a week, so 2,000 in three days has surpassed my target.

Thousands of refugees finally made it to Germany Sunday morning after traveling through Austria and Hungary, where some of them had been stranded for days, according to Reuters. A total of 6,800 migrants entered Germany on Saturday and another 5,000 are expected on Sunday, Bavarian state officials told Reuters. Germany said it expects a total 800,000 refugees and migrants this year.


While both Austria and Germany have agreed to accept thousands of refugees and migrants, Hungary is not budging as easily. Authorities are allegedly sealing trains in Bicske, Hungary, until migrants agree to exit the trains and go to nearby holding camps, according to CNN. But the migrants and refugees don't want to go to the camps because some say authorities at the camp treat migrants poorly, the news network reports.

The Hungarian government has said that it is just trying to enforce the European Union's rules that undocumented migrants can't go where they wish and must be registered. Unfortunately, Hungary is keeping a number of refugees, or people who can prove they've come from conflict areas, from receiving shelter and care, according to CNN.