Pope Francis Defines Refugee Crisis as Greatest Tragedy Since WWII

Pope Francis labeled the current migrant and refugee crisis as the biggest disaster since World War II and urged the world to welcome and accept the displaced victims of war.

The pontiff addressed the issue during his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square on Wednesday, March 22. He also discussed his catechesis and called for the rediscovery of the Sacrament of Confession.

After his public audience, Pope Francis gave a special message to the leaders of the Migrantes Foundation, an Italian church association for migrants, and urged them to persist in their efforts to support and assist migrants and refugees.

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The pontiff stressed the significance of the proper integration of the displaced population into their host community and the "reciprocal rights and obligations of those who receive and those who are received."

Pope Francis has been very vocal about the ongoing migrant and refugee crisis. He repeatedly urged world leaders to assist the displaced and appealed to the sovereign right of nations to control their territorial boundaries.

While the pontiff acknowledged a country's right to regulate who enters and who leaves in an interview in January, he also appealed to nations and individuals alike to welcome people who have left their homelands to seek better lives.

Pope Francis also tackled integration issues in the same interview, stating how immigrants can be "ghettoized" — unable to become a part of their host society.

In October 2016, the pontiff stressed that it is "hypocritical to call oneself a Christian and send away a refugee, or one who needs my help. Jesus taught us who the good Christian is in the parable of the good Samaritan."

In his general audience this week, Pope Francis also talked about the upcoming "24 hours for the Lord" and encouraged Catholic communities to participate. The initiative, which is held from March 23 to 24, highlights the Sacrament of Reconciliation — in which parishes around the world will keep their doors open for 24 hours to facilitate confessions to penitents.

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