ROME — Pope Francis has sent the papal almoner back to the Greek island of Lesbos to pick up 33 asylum-seekers and bring them back to Rome.
Polish Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, whom the pope appointed to head up his personal charitable giving in 2013, flew to Lesbos on Monday and is expected back on Wednesday with a group of young refugees and some families from Afghanistan, Cameroon, and Togo.
The pontiff personally visited the island of Lesbos in 2016 at the height of Europe’s migrant crisis and brought back with him on the papal plane three Muslim families from Syria as a grand “gesture of welcome.”
Lesbos had been dubbed “the gateway to Europe” because of the enormous number of migrants arriving weekly to its shores, en route to European countries to the north.
At the time, the Vatican said it would assume responsibility for the upkeep of the three families, enlisting the community of St. Egidio to provide hospitality for them and help them integrate into Italian society.
Last May, on the third anniversary of the papal trip, the pope asked his almoner to return to the island to “renew solidarity with the Greek people and refugees” and to make “a further gesture of solidarity” by bringing back a group of asylum-seekers.
According to a communiqué from the papal almoner’s office sent to Breitbart News, “after an intense period of official negotiations between the relevant bodies in order to open this new humanitarian corridor, the Ministry of the Interior of the Italian Republic has given the final consent to carry out the operation.”
In his humanitarian mission, Cardinal Krajewski took with him some leaders of the Community of St. Egidio who will assist him in bringing back the refugees. Later this month, the Vatican said it will bring in ten more refugees to Italy to help them obtain “international protection.”
The Holy See has once again guaranteed the financial upkeep of the migrants, with help from the Community of St. Egidio.
With its 630 square miles and a population of over 90 thousand inhabitants, Lesbos is the third largest Greek island and the eighth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Because of its geographical position, it was the preferred arrival point for Syrian refugees and others from the Middle East wishing to migrate to Europe.
Pope Francis has made outreach to migrants a hallmark of his six-year papacy, encouraging leaders to generously open their borders to migrants and pushing for a greater “racial mixing” and “mingling of cultures.”