Pope francesco back to the island of Lesbos, in Greece, to denounce the concentration camps of refugees. Bergoglio had been there in 2016 on a flash trip of just one day to visit a refugee camp, taking with him back to Rome, on the papal flight, three families of refugees from Syria, twelve people in all, six of whom are minors, all Muslims. It was some of them who greeted the Pope, a House Santa Marta, before his departure for the journey which had an initial stage in Cipro and which then continued in Greece. People welcomed by Community of Sant’Egidio. Before returning to Lesbos, Francis prayed with migrants in the Church of Santa Croce in Nicosia. City divided into two parts by a wall with a barbed wire: on one side the southern area remained the capital of Cyprus, a member state of the European Union, and on the other the northern one which became the capital of the self-proclaimed government of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus after the 1974 invasion. The latter recognized only by the Turkey.
Just a Nicosia, the Pope met about fifty refugees who in the coming weeks, “as a sign of the Holy Father’s concern for families and migrants”, as explained by the Vatican, will be transferred from Cyprus to Italy thanks to an agreement between the Secretariat of State, the Italian and Cypriot authorities and the collaboration with the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Dicastery for the Service of Integral Human Development of the Holy See and the Community of Sant ‘ Egidio. “We believe – he affirmed Giancarlo Penza, responsible for international relations and development for the Community of Sant’Egidio – which, as we did for the humanitarian corridors in the past, even this group of refugees will be able to be autonomous and independent one year after their reception, certainly if the integration process is successful “.
Francis addressed very strong words to them: “Looking at you, I think of many who have had to go back because they rejected them and ended up in concentration camps, real concentration camps, where women are sold, the tortured men, enslaved. We complain when we read the stories of the concentration camps of the last century, those of the gods Nazis, those of Stalin, we complain when we see this and we say: ‘But why did this happen?’. Brothers and sisters: it is happening today, in the nearby coasts! Places of slavery. I looked at some filmed testimonies of this: places of torture, people selling. I say this because it is my responsibility to help open your eyes. There forced migration it is not an almost tourist habit: please! And the sin we have inside leads us to think like this: ‘Well, poor people, poor people!’. And with that ‘poor people’ we delete everything. It is the war of this moment, it is the suffering of brothers and sisters that we cannot keep silent. Those who gave everything they had to get on a barge, at night, and then without knowing if they will arrive. And then, many rejected to end up in the concentration camps, real ones confinement places and torture and slavery. This is the story of this developed civilization, which we call the West ”.
A theme that has always been at the center of Francis’ pontificate. His first trip, in 2013, fu a Lampedusa to denounce what on that occasion he called the “globalization of indifference” in the face of the continuous tragedies of migrants who died in the sea to escape from violence, wars and poverty. Gestures and words, those of Bergoglio, which always arouse bitter political controversy, especially in Europe, and divisions, even among those who call themselves Christians. On the eve of the Pope’s visit to Greece, Intersos, the most important Italian NGO present in Lesbos, wrote a letter to Francesco together with 36 associations operating on the island. In it, we read that “European countries cannot and must not deny their share of responsibility in the protection of refugees. Shift responsibility to other countries in exchange for financial aid increases the global inequalities and it’s morally deplorable. At the same time, it often exposes refugees to the risk of ill-treatment or places them in a state of protection subject to restrictions. A Europe founded on the values of humanity, democracy and solidarity cannot be legitimized in constantly shifting its responsibilities elsewhere. The same is true for certain European governments which deny, by themselves, their share of responsibility ”.
Words in full harmony with those addressed by the Pope to the Greek authorities, after being welcomed by the President of the Republic, Katerina Sakellaropoulou: “This country, characterized by hospitality, has seen in some of its islands a number of migrant brothers and sisters greater than the inhabitants themselves, thus increasing the hardships, which are still affected by the fatigue of the economic crisis. But even the European procrastination persists: the European Community, torn by nationalistic selfishness, rather than being a driving force for solidarity, it sometimes appears blocked and uncoordinated. If once ideological contrasts prevented the construction of bridges between the east and west of the continent, today the migration issue has also opened holes between the south and the north. I would like once again to urge an overall, communitarian vision of the migration issue, and to encourage people to pay attention to the most needy so that, according to the possibilities of each country, they are accepted, protected, promoted and integrated in full respect of theirs human rights and their dignity. More than an obstacle for the present, this represents a guarantee for the future, so that it is in the sign of one peaceful coexistence with those who are increasingly forced to flee in search of home and hope. They are the protagonists of a terrible modern odyssey ”. And he added: “Suffering unites us and recognizing belonging to the same fragile humanity will help to build a more integrated and peaceful future. We transform into bold chance what seems only an unfortunate adversity “.