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Pope Francis in Greece: ‘We Are All Migrants’

In his one-day visit to meet migrants and refugees on the Greek island of Lesbos Saturday, Pope Francis expressed his conviction that “we are all migrants” as he greeted the many asylum-seekers awaiting word regarding the processing of their cases.

Pope Francis visited the Moria detention center, the temporary home of some 3,000 migrants accompanied by two other religious leaders: the Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew and the Greek Archbishop Ieronymos.

The three men each offered a public prayer for the victims of migration who have died attempting to reach other lands.

The Archbishop of Athens and All Greece was the first to offer his prayer for the souls of the departed migrants, asking God to give them “rest in a place of light, in a place of green pasture, in a place of refreshment, from where pain and sorrow and mourning are fled away,” and to forgive every sin they had committed.

Patriarch Bartholomew followed, and similarly asked the “Lord of life and of death” to “grant eternal repose to the souls of Your departed servants, those who lost their lives during their exodus from war-torn regions and during their journeys to places of safety, peace and prosperity.”

In his prayer, Pope Francis was the only one of the three who did not explicitly pray for the repose of the souls of those who had died, turning his thoughts more to the actions of the living than the eternal life of the departed. “May we never forget them, but honour their sacrifice with deeds more than words,” he said.

In what was the most political of the three prayers, Francis asked God to “wake us from the slumber of indifference, open our eyes to their suffering, and free us from the insensitivity born of worldly comfort and self-centredness.”

“Inspire us,” he said, “as nations, communities and individuals, to see that those who come to our shores are our brothers and sisters.”

“May we share with them the blessings we have received from Your hand,” he said, “and recognise that together, as one human family, we are all migrants, journeying in hope to You, our true home, where every tear will be wiped away, where we will be at peace and safe in Your embrace.”

The three men also signed a joint declaration in which they offered specific recommendations to the nations of Europe regarding the treatment of migrants.

In it, they “urge all countries to extend temporary asylum, to offer refugee status to those who are eligible, to expand their relief efforts and to work with all men and women of good will for a prompt end to the conflicts in course.”

Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter  

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