Pope Francis: Welcoming Refugees Into Your Homes 'Is Our Greatest Security Against Terrorism'

Pope Francis
Pope Francis poses with refugees as he leads the weekly audience in Paul VI hall at the Vatican, Rome, Italy, August 3, 2016. |

Vatican leader Pope Francis told hundreds of alumni of Jesuit schools that welcoming refugees and helping them settle into society is the "greatest security" people have against terrorism.

"I encourage you to welcome refugees into your homes and communities, so that their first experience of Europe is not the traumatic experience of sleeping cold on the streets, but one of warm human welcome," Francis said in a speech this weekend to the Members of the European Confederation and the World Union of Jesuit Alumni and Alumnae.

"Remember that authentic hospitality is a profound Gospel value that nurtures love and is our greatest security against hateful acts of terrorism," he added, according to Vatican Radio.

As he has in the past, Francis described the ongoing refugee crisis as "the greatest humanitarian crisis" since World War II, and noted that there are as many as 65 million people displaced from their homes around the world.

The pontiff urged Jesuits to not only look at the statistics, but discover that the refugees are "women and men, boys and girls who are no different than our own family members and friends."

Pope Francis
Pope Francis waves as he arrives, flanked by a group of refugees, to lead his Wednesday general audience in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican June 22, 2016. |

"Each of them has a name, a face, and a story, as well as an inalienable right to live in peace and to aspire to a better future for their sons and daughters," he added.

Francis also called for unity and support among the various groups working to help the refugees.

"Sometimes we can feel that we are alone as we try to put mercy into action. Know, however, that you join your work with that of many ecclesial organizations which work for humanitarian causes and which dedicate themselves to the excluded and marginalized," he said.

"Yet more important, remember that the love of God accompanies you in this work. You are God's eyes, mouth, hands and heart in this world."

Francis has made several gestures directed at welcoming refugees, including washing and kissing the feet of 12 refugees, including Muslims and Hindus, at a ceremony in preparation for Easter earlier this year.

Some major evangelical leaders in the United States, such as Saddleback Church Pastor Rick Warren in Lake Forest, California, have also called on Christians to follow Jesus' footsteps and help refugees.

"Why must we care about these refugees? Why must we care about foreigners? Why must we care about immigrants? What the Bible sometimes calls aliens, foreigners, strangers in the land? Because God commands it. All throughout Scripture, God says you are to treat people who are out of their country kindly," Warren said at the at the GC2 Summit at Community Christian Church in Naperville, Illinois, back in January.

Others, such as Faith McDonnell, the director of religious liberty programs and the Church Alliance for a New Sudan at the Washington-based think tank Institute on Religion and Democracy, have argued that it is not unchristian to voice concern about how refugees from Syria are being resettled in America, however.

McDonnell told The Christian Post back in August that the refugee resettlement system needs to be changed, given the tiny percentage of Christians who are being included among those resettled in the U.S.

"There is this thing about 'Are we going to respond with fear or compassion?' I think that is a false dichotomy," McDonnell said about those arguing that Christians must help refugees regardless of security concerns.

"I think that you can be compassionate and still have the appropriate concern about the situation. They challenge American Christians and churches to respond biblically with Christ-like compassion and not give into fear, which they insinuate is not only sinful but in some cases, they ridicule people for it."

She added: "If we look at what is happening right now in Europe, is it really compassionate and Christian to subject Americans to that kind of nightmare, to the rape that is going on and the changing of the entire cultures?"

Follow Stoyan Zaimov on Facebook: CPSZaimov

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