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“Decidedly Mixed” Catholic Response to Pope’s Call to Shelter Refugees

Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 12/24/15

From Reuters: 

One Catholic parish in Germany tore out its pews to make space for refugees. Franciscan monks near Rome took a family into their hilltop convent. But in northern Italy, a rural priest faced hostility when he asked his flock to shelter Muslims. Four months after Pope Francis appealed to the parishes and religious communities of Europe to each take in one family of refugees, the response is decidedly mixed. Arms have opened wide in some places but indifference, bureaucracy, fear, and xenophobia have reared their heads elsewhere, particularly after the attack by Islamist militants who killed 130 people in Paris last month. Around a million migrants arrived by sea in Europe in 2015, with some 3,700 dying, according to the International Organisation for Migration. Some of them, if Francis is heeded, should be heading to safety among the roughly 120,000 Catholic parishes in Europe But in Italy – which with more than 25,000 has the largest number of parishes – only about 1,000 have responded, according to Father Giancarlo Perego, head of the Church-affiliated Migrantes Foundation. Another 1,500 families had offered to host refugees. Perego and other Church officials pointed out, however, that many Catholic parishes were already supporting refugee services well before the pope’s appeal. Italian bishops have published a “How To” booklet for parishes, dealing with everything from how to prepare parishioners for the arrival of refugees, legal issues, and a glossary explaining terms such as asylum and repatriation. When Francis announced the initiative on Sept. 6, he set the example by welcoming two families into the Vatican’s own two parishes.

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Photo: Wikipedia

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