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Pope Francis hits out at indifference to migrants and refugees

The pontiff made his remarks at a mass at the Vatican City.

Pope Francis unveils a sculpture on the occasion of the Migrant and Refugee World Day (Vincenzo Pinto/AP)
Pope Francis unveils a sculpture on the occasion of the Migrant and Refugee World Day (Vincenzo Pinto/AP)

By Associated Press Reporter

Pope Francis has denounced “the culture of comfort”, which he says leads to indifference in the face of a global migration and refugee crisis.

Francis said on Sunday during a mass for the World Day for Migrants and Refugees that “we cannot be indifferent to the tragedy of old and new forms of poverty, to the bleak isolation, contempt and discrimination experienced by those who do not belong to ‘our group'”.

The pope said the weapons that fuel wars are often produced and sold in other regions “which are then unwilling to take in the refugees generated buy these conflicts”.

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Nuns attend a mass celebrated by Pope Francis on the occasion of the Migrant and Refugee World Day (Andrew Medichini/AP)

Many migrants and refugees from conflicts throughout the world attended the mass in St Peter’s Square.

It closed with the unveiling of a bronze statue by Canadian artist Timothy Schmalz depicting migrants packed on a boat.

Francis said: “We cannot remain insensitive, our hearts deadened, before the misery of so many innocent people. We must not fail to weep. We must not fail to respond.”

The pontiff has often spoken of the need to be welcoming to migrants, travelling to the Italian island of Lampedusa in 2013 on his first trip as pope to comfort refugees.

His message found political resistance in Italy’s previous populist government, during which the former hard-line interior minister, Matteo Salvini, campaigned to prevent the arrival in Italy of migrants rescued at sea by humanitarian groups.

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Pope Francis unveils a sculpture on the occasion of the Migrant and Refugee World Day (Andrew Medichini/AP)

During his homily, the pope also noted the weapons that fuel wars are often produced and sold in other regions “which are then unwilling to take in the refugees generated buy these conflicts”.

Unveiling the statue, the pope said: “This statue depicts a group of migrants from various cultures and over different historic periods. I wanted this artistic work here in St Peter’s Square to remind everyone of the evangelical challenge of hospitality.”

During the Mass, a multi-ethnic chorus sang and the incense burned came from a refugee camp in southern Ethiopia, where refugees are rekindling a 600-year-old tradition of collecting incense.

The Vatican said the incense “reminds us that refugees can also thrive, not just survive”.

PA

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