As thousands of refugees attempt to reach Europe, Pope Francis has acknowledged the danger of infiltration by ISIS terrorists.
“It’s true, I recognise that, nowadays, border safety conditions are not what they once were. The truth is that just 400 kilometres from Sicily there is an incredibly cruel terrorist group. So there is a danger of infiltration, this is true,” the Pope said during an interview with Portuguese radio station Radio Renascença.
He added that “nobody said Rome would be immune to this threat”.
The Pope went on to say that “if a refugee arrives, despite all the safety precautions, we must welcome him, because this is a commandment from the Bible”. However, he also said that “we can’t be simplistic” over the way to handle the migrants and asylum seekers, referring to Europe’s “very big Labour crisis”.
During the wide-ranging interview, Pope Francis also re-iterated his call for parishes and Catholic institutions to take in refugee families.
“What I asked was that in each parish and each religious institute, every monastery, should take in one family. A family, not just one person. A family gives more guarantees of security and containment, so as to avoid infiltrations of another kind,” he said.
“When I say that a parish should welcome a family, I don’t mean that they should go and live in the priest’s house, in the rectory, but that each parish community should see if there is a place, a corner in the school which can be turned into a small apartment or, if necessary, that they may rent a small apartment for this family; but that they should be provided with a roof, welcomed and integrated into the community… There are convents which are almost empty.”
The Pope added that two families that the Vatican plan to take in “have already been identified and the two Vatican parishes have undertaken to go and search for them.”
Francis also briefly discussed the upcoming synod on the family, which will take place next month. “At the synod we will be speaking about all the possible ways to help these families”, he said. “But one thing should be very clear – something Pope Benedict left quite clear: people who are in a second union are not excommunicated and should be integrated into Church life.”
When asked about his global popularity, Francis responded that he hopes the peace in his heart will be maintained.
“Crosses exist. You can’t see them, but they are there,” he said. “Jesus also, for a certain time, was very popular, and look at how that turned out. So nobody has their happiness guaranteed in this world. The only thing I ask is that this peace in my heart be maintained and that He keep me in his Grace, because, until the last moment we are sinners and we can renounce his Grace.”