Pope bids refugees to EU ‘Bienvenido’; Europe says ‘Non’

(The Daily Beast) As Europe closes its shores to immigrants and refugees, the pope asks for welcome of the stranger fleeing war. Is Europe ready to listen?

Earlier this month the Vatican announced the installation of free showers for the homeless in public bathrooms in the city-state. Now it emerges that the Pope wants the rest of Europe to follow suit and provide political asylum and public services on a much grander scale.

In a speech to the European Parliament and Council of Europe, Pope Francis told Europeans that they have to stop being self-absorbed and open their borders to immigrants and refugees from war-torn regions. Never one to mince words, Francis described Europe as giving off the “general impression of weariness and aging” and—with chauvinistic rhetoric that assumes women are useful only when they procreate—he compared her to an elderly “grandmother, no longer fertile and vibrant.” So much for “respect your elders.”

Francis’s mild misogyny aside, the Catholic Church’s compassionate position on immigration is familiar to US Catholics and politicians. Conservative and progressive Catholic Bishops alike have rallied behind reforms to the immigration system.

“You shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the feelings of the stranger, having yourselves been strangers in Egypt.”

In the case of illegal immigration in the southern states of the U.S., it is easy to dismiss the Catholic position as religious self-interest. A high proportion of illegal immigrants are Catholic, and, thus, skeptics see advocacy for these immigrants as the Catholic Church looking after its own.

Francis’s latest statements demonstrate that the Church really means it. The refugees that Francis wants to see welcomed in Europe are predominantly those seeking asylum from war-torn and disease-struck regions in Africa and the Middle East. While he received a round of applause, his speech comes as something of a shock to Europeans, who see themselves as more socially progressive than their political allies in the United States. [More]

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The Daily Beast