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Pope Francis invites refugees to join him on stage at general audience

Pope Francis walks with a group of refugees this morning (AP Photo/Fabio Frustaci)

Pope Francis invited a number of refugees to join him on stage during his general audience.

The Holy See called a dozen male refugees to stand with him on the steps of St Peter’s Basilica earlier today.

The men are being cared for by a charity at the Vatican. They carried with them banners of the organisation as well as Vatican flags. The group sat in front of the pontiff as he delivered his weekly address.

As he welcomed the refugees, the Pope emphasised to the audience how much the men had suffered in their homelands. He called for Europe to welcome more migrants.

The Pope said: “Please they are our brothers. A Christian excludes no one. I ask all of you: Let everyone come.”

Pope Francis remains a passionate supporter of refugees. In April, he brought twelve refugees back to the Vatican from Greece. Recently, the Vatican brought a second group to Rome from the Moria Refugee Camp based on the island of Lesbos.

During his address, the Pope focused on the the records of the healing of lepers in the Gospels. Francis proclaimed that like Jesus, we shouldn’t be afraid to reach out to the most vulnerable in our society.

“Saint Luke tells us that one leper, moved by faith, did not fear to pass among the crowds and beg Jesus to cleanse him,” the Pope said, according to Vatican Radio.

“If this leper broke the law, Jesus did likewise by touching the man and cleansing him of the disease. The Lord’s example teaches us not to be afraid to reach out and touch the poor and the needy in our midst.”

He added: “Significantly, the encounter does not end there. Jesus tells the healed leper to present himself to the priest to make the prescribed offering, and as a testimony to his healing. In this way, he shows us that his miracles of healing aim at the rehabilitation of sinners and that true faith bears fruit in witness.”