Pope Francis: People Who Ignore Plight of Refugees Are Like Those Who Washed Their Hands of Jesus' Suffering

Pope Francis
Pope Francis leads the Palm Sunday mass at Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican, Rome, Italy, March 20, 2016. |

Pope Francis broke from his Palm Sunday homily where he recalled the suffering of Jesus Christ to decry the treatment of refugees, noting that those who ignore their plight are like those who washed their hands of Jesus' fate.

In a prepared speech, Francis spoke about the pain and suffering Christ went through before his crucifixion at the hands of the Roman soldiers, including "mockery, insults, and spitting," along with beatings and torture.

"He suffers in His body terrible brutality: the blows, the scourging and the crown of thorns make His face unrecognizable. He also experiences shame and disgraceful condemnation by religious and political authorities: He is made into sin and considered to be unjust," Francis said.

"Pilate then sends Him to Herod, who in turn sends Him to the Roman governor. Even as every form of justice is denied to Him, Jesus also experiences in His own flesh indifference, since no one wishes to take responsibility for His fate," he added.

At that point Francis mentioned the refugee crisis in Europe, where millions are making their way across the continent fleeing terrorism and war.

"And I am thinking of so many people, so many on the margins, so many refugees" for whom "many don't want to assume responsibility for their destiny," Francis said, according to The Associated Press.

The Vatican leader has repeatedly called on Europe's leaders to "overcome the inevitable fears associated with this massive and formidable phenomenon" and help the refugees as much as possible.

Francis told European diplomats back in January that it is wrong to turn down refugees because of fear and uncertainty.

"Extremism and fundamentalism find fertile soil not only in the exploitation of religion for purposes of power, but also in the vacuum of ideals and the loss of identity — including religious identity — which dramatically marks the so-called West," the pope said back then.

"This vacuum gives rise to the fear which leads to seeing the other as a threat and an enemy, to closed-mindedness and intransigence in defending preconceived notions."

In his homily on Sunday, Francis reminded Christians that Jesus sacrificed everything for the sake of the people, while many people today find it difficult to stop focusing so much on themselves even a little.

"He comes to save us; we are called to choose His way: the way of service, of giving, of forgetfulness of ourselves. Let us walk this path, pausing in these days to gaze upon the Crucifix, the 'royal seat of God,' to learn about the humble love which saves and gives life, so that we may give up all selfishness, and the seeking of power and fame," the Roman Catholic Church leader added.

Other Christian leaders, such as the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, have also made a link between Christ and the fate of refugees, arguing back in September that Jesus himself was a refugee fleeing war and persecution.

"As the archbishop has said, Jesus was a refugee, and there are refugees here who are desperate for sanctuary from war-torn places and the archbishop is completely torn about their situation and wants to make a difference," a spokesperson for Welby said at the time.

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