Pope Francis has called on European governments to rescue asylum seekers who cross the sea to escape conflict, and not to hinder volunteers trying to do so.
The pope’s Friday call follows a wave of refugee boats that arrived on the small Italian island of Lampedusa from North Africa last week, sparking outrage in Italy and a heated debate across Europe over how to share responsibility for the influx.
In his speech in the French Mediterranean city of Marseille, the prelate said it is a duty of humanity and a duty of civilization to save people in difficulty, warning governments against the “fanaticism of indifference” and “paralysis of fear.”
He also thanked NGOs rescuing migrants in danger at sea and condemned efforts to prevent their activity many of which are organized either by the European Union, its members, or partner governments it strikes deals with as “gestures of hate.”
Francis was visiting Marseille to attend a meeting of Catholic bishops and young people from the Mediterranean area.
It is the first visit by a pope to France’s second largest city in 500 years. This afternoon, Francis will lead a mass at the Velodrome stadium for 100,000 people. ENDS