What will pope's support for refugees achieve?

Pope Francis has visited the Greek island of Lesbos and drawn attention to the fate of drowned refugees. When he returned to Rome he took three Syrian families with him. Commentators say his gesture sends a strong message.

Open/close all quotes
Dennik N (SK) /

Orbán and Kaczyński should be excommunicated

It's surprising that more Catholics don't emulate the Pope, commentator Martin Šimečka writes in the daily Dennik N:

“The pope's weekend visit to Lesbos, after which he took several Muslim refugees back to the Vatican was proof of just how profound the gap is between him and the European Catholics who remain deaf to his words and blind to his acts. ... I don't know what goes on in the heads of Catholics when the Pope calls on them to help the refugees. I always thought that at least on the matter of Christian-ethical dogma Catholics would recognise the pope's infallibility. ... Furthermore it's unclear to me why the pope doesn't excommunicate politicians like Jarosław Kaczyński or Viktor Orbán, who undermine his authority with their words and deeds. Yes, he'd lose two worthless members of his flock if he did. But he would gain my sympathy - that of a non-believer - for a start.”

Novosti (HR) /

He says what politicians don't dare say

Pope Francis's visit to Lesbos won't change the world but it will encourage a shift in thinking, the weekly of the Serb minority, Novosti, writes:

“If we understood the message from Lesbos properly it is no longer enough to go and sit in church. The pope has sent a loud and clear message to all those who are closing their doors to refugees. He not only called on the brothers and sisters all over the world to show more compassion, but took three Syrian families from the refugee camp with him in his plane. With this act he has opened Europe's border, which is being defended in Macedonia with tear gas and rubber bullets. And finally the pope has spoken out the truth that all the Western politicians have been stubbornly closing their eyes to: to show solidarity with those forced to flee one must focus on combating wars.”

Polityka (PL) /

The world's conscience

In taking in refugees Francis has fulfilled the Christian mission in an exemplary way, Polish historian and journalist Jarosław Makowski writes on his blog with the news magazine Polityka:

“The island of Lesbos, which Franziskus has just visited, is currently a symbol for a culture of indifference. It is considered a catchment basin for people who many others see as a sort of human waste that they want to wash their hands of. And now Francis has done exactly what a Christian should do in such cases: when he as a Christian sees someone who is suffering, he rushes to help them. And in so doing he has become the conscience of the entire world.”

Protagon.gr (GR) /

Religious spectacle no help to migrants

What is needed now is political solutions rather than religious spectacles, columnist Andreas Zamboukas demands on the liberal website Protagon:

“We had hoped that Europe would do more on a political level to find solutions for the refugee problem, instead of encouraging masses of 'pious viewers' to shed tears in view of this exploitation of human suffering. ... Democracies need brilliant political leaders with a sense of responsibility regarding the humane task of laws and temporal justice. Humans with consciences, not masked 'political clergymen'. ... I would like to see the favelas emptied, and the refugees integrated or returned to their home countries. I would like to see the slaughter in Syria ended. With decisions and political plans. Not religious events staged by Christians or false tears from those on the left.”

Lrytas (LT) /

Pope trying to market faith as a cool brand

By focussing on popular actions like the visit to Lesbos Pope Francis is neglecting the Catholic faith, columnist Giedrius Drukteinis comments on news portal Lrytas:

“I doubt that Jesus's goal was to make his faith popular. Faith is not a commodity to be sold. Faith is not something that can be evaluated. Faith is not a brand that is cool or trendy at a certain point in history. … The Roman Catholic Church has been under assault by modernisation and popularisation waves for 2,000 years. So far it has withstood the pressure, not because of encouraging characters posting their selfies on Instagram but because of the eternal faithfulness to the teachings passed down to us by the apostles, without the desire to adjust their faith to current political, economic, social or technological developments.”

More opinions

The Guardian (GB) / 18 April 2016
  Francis's big gesture should shame Europeans