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Editorial

The Pope’s Brave Words about Refugees/Immigrants

Pope Francis of Rome, during his visit to Cyprus and Greece which was aimed at supporting refugees/immigrants, seized the moral high ground on this issue.

He placed himself – and his Church – on the side of the impoverished, the oppressed, the desperate. He did nothing more than do his job, which is required both by the preaching of Christ and the principles of Enlightenment. But to do this nowadays requires courage. That’s why his actions earned him more respect.

The issue of refugees/immigrants has been a politically thorny issue since ancient times.

They are an easy target for society because they are helpless. Those around them feel a sense of power and superiority over them during what are difficult years for them, when they are neglected and under financial pressure. It is therefore a politically difficult issue, with the result that governments do not dare manage it in a more humane and nationally more beneficial way.

In France, for example, a television commentator – the son of immigrants from Algeria – has made this issue a major one and one that has earned him considerable popularity.

The refugee situation is not France’s most serious problem. But the people of France – who have not had it easy, who fear for the future of their children – do not want to shoulder, even temporarily, any burden of the immigrants – and thus, find them an easy target for blame.

Consequently, while societies begin with positive intentions towards refugees/immigrants, when their flows continue for some time and their presence becomes more apparent in society, they turn against them with the intention of protecting themselves.

In other words, public opinion shifts from one end of the spectrum to the other on this issue.
That is when courageous moral voices are needed to speak truth to the people who oppose them and offer hope and relief to the afflicted.

The Pope’s speeches, I must say, were inspiring. Touching. Thoughtful. His words were addressed to ‘our best angels.’ They shook our absolute (and erroneous) certainty that we are right to stand against these people.

“Please,” he said, among other things, speaking in Lesvos, “stop this shipwreck of our civilization … I call on every man and woman, all of us, to overcome the paralysis of the fear and indifference that kills, the general lack of interest that condemns to death those on the margins. To stop ignoring reality. To stop transferring responsibility from one to another… The Mediterranean, the cradle of so many civilizations, has been turned into a huge cemetery where smugglers’ ships full of desperate people are sinking.”

Dealing with waves of refugees/migrants is not a matter for one or a few countries. It is a pan-European problem. That is how it must be handled. It is not fair for the European Union to expect Greece to solve it on its own, and for Turkey to be allowed to constantly exploit it and blackmail the EU to give it more aid.

However, it is also Greece’s responsibility to treat them humanely.

Greece showed its best face when it recently accepted seven hundred Afghan professional refugees (when other countries refused to accept them), who then went on to various other countries, mainly the United States.

And on top of that, the Greek Prime Minister welcomed a delegation of them at his office.

Bravo!

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