(London Post) In a clear signal to Europe, Pope Francis has allowed three refugee families to accompany him on his charter plane back to the Vatican. Francis was on the Greek island of Lesbos to shed light on the refugees’ plight.
Three families – two from Damascus and one from the “Islamic State”-held Deir el-Zour – accompanied the pope on his charter plane to Italy. The group of refugees totaled 12 people, including six children.
“Today I renew my heartfelt plea for responsibility and solidarity in the face of this tragic situation,” Francis said.
Lots were drawn to decide which individuals would be allowed to go with the pope, reported DW correspondent Bernd Riegert, who was on the scene as the plane departed.
An emotional meeting
Overwhelmed by the pope’s visit, refugees reportedly sobbed and fell to their knees in his presence. Some even reportedly asked to be blessed by him.
After the visit, Francis had lunch with some of the refugees and then, along with the head of the Orthodox Christians, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, and the head of the Orthodox Church of Greece, Athens Archbishop Ieronymos II, signed a declaration calling for their protection.
Refugees were also seen holding signs emblazoned with slogans such as “Pope you are our hope,” “Please save Yazidi people,” “We are also human” and “Welcome Pope Francis.”