But he took everyone by surprise in announcing that he also intends to take 12 of the refugees back to Rome with him when he leaves.
Cleric visits Greece, decides to take 12 refugees home with him
The Pope is visiting a Greek refugee centre today to meet some of the 250 refugees stuck on the island of Lesbos.
There shall be a lunch with eight of the refugees, in order to hear their stories of fleeing war, conflict and poverty and hopes for a better life in Europe. And there's also a plan in place to toss floral wreathes into the sea in prayer for those who never made it.
The announcement to do this coincides with the EU implementing its controversial deportation plan to send refugees to Turkey.
The Vatican has however insisted that the Pope's visit on Saturday is not political or a ‘direct’ criticism of the EU plan, as it is purely humanitarian and religious in nature.
But spokesman the Rev Federico Lombardi told reporters Francis’ position on Europe’s ‘moral obligation’ to welcome refugees is well-known, and that the EU-Turkey deportation deal certainly has ‘consequences on the situation of the people involved’.The Vatican official in charge of migrants, Cardinal Antonio Maria Veglio, was even more explicit, saying the EU-Turkey plan essentially treats migrants as merchandise that can be traded back and forth and does not recognise their inherent dignity as human beings.
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