POPE HIGHLIGHTS MIGRANTS IN CATECHESIS ON MERCY AND CONSOLATION – PAPAL SOLIDARITY FOR PEOPLE SUFFERING VIOLENCE IN MIDDLE EAST – MEDICINES FOR THE POOR AND HOMELESS AT THE VATICAN

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FYI: Pope Francis will make his debt on Instagram March 19 under the handle Franciscus.

POPE HIGHLIGHTS MIGRANTS IN CATECHESIS ON MERCY AND CONSOLATION

The general audience Wednesday was marked by a papal appeal to leaders to open their doors to migrants. Pope Francis told the 25,000 faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square, “I like to see leaders who open their hearts and their doors” to the many migrants fleeing their countries.”

As he gave his weekly catechesis, highlighting mercy and consolation, the Holy Father interrupted his prepared text many times with off-the-cuff remarks, especially about the countless migrants who attempt to enter Europe as they leave their native lands because of poverty, war and violence.

He spoke of “our many brothers and sisters who are living a real and dramatic situation of exile, far from their homeland, with the ruins of their homes and the fear still in their eyes, and even, unfortunately, the pain for the loss of their loved ones.”

Francis asked:  “How is it possible that so much pain can strike innocent men, women and children who find doors closed to them when they attempt to go elsewhere? And they are there, on the border, because so many doors and so many hearts are closed. Migrants today are suffering. They are without food and they are not allowed in. They do not feel a welcome” he said.  “God does not forget the pain of those who are rejected” and, in such cases, “it is easy to ask oneself: where is God?”

The Pope’s reflections centered on a reading in the book of the Prophet Jeremiah that he described as containing a message of consolation. Jeremiah, he explained, turns to the Israelites who had been exiled. This experience had shaken their faith, yet the prophet proclaims that God, far from abandoning his people, reaffirms his faithful love and his promise of salvation.  Jeremiah’s words of consolation and hope have a particular resonance today in the light of so many tragic situations of exile throughout our world.

He explicitly mentioned Albania’s recent history, noting that, after “so much persecution and destruction, (this nation) has managed to lift itself in dignity and faith.”

Francis also spoke of St. Patrick at the end of the general audience when he traditionally greets young people, the ill and newlyweds. “Tomorrow we will commemorate St. Patrick, the apostle of Ireland. May his spiritual stamina stir you, dear young people, to be consistent with your faith; may his trust in Christ the Savior sustain you, dear sick and infirm people, in times of great difficulty; and may his missionary dedication remind you, dear newlyweds, of the importance of the Christian education of your children.”

PAPAL SOLIDARITY FOR PEOPLE SUFFERING VIOLENCE IN MIDDLE EAST

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis Wednesday offered words of solidarity for those in the Middle East currently suffering from the wars and violence which are affecting the region. (photo: news.va)

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“How many experiences of exile, expatriation, grief, and persecution that pushes us to doubt even the goodness of God, and His love for us,” Pope Francis said, while greeting Arab-speaking pilgrims during the weekly general audience.

“Doubt which dissipates in front of the truth that God is faithful, close, and keeps his promise to those who do not doubt Him, and for those who hope against hope,” – the Holy Father continued – “The consolation of the Lord is near to those who pass through the agonizing night of doubt, clinging and hoping for the dawn of the Mercy of God, which the totality of the darkness and injustice will never be able to defeat.”

Pope Francis concluded his remarks by saying: “The Lord bless you all, and protect you from evil!”

MEDICINES FOR THE POOR AND HOMELESS AT THE VATICAN

(Vatican Radio) One of the many initiatives in favor of the poor that has sprung to life thanks to the wish of Pope Francis is an outlet providing medicines to those in need.

Close to the shower and hairdressing facilities, which are open to homeless and indigent people near the right-hand colonnade of St. Peter’s Square, is a “solidarity” counter that hands out medicines provided by the Italian “Banco Farmaceutico” whose mission is to respond to the needs of poor people.

The Vatican counter is one of the 1,663 charitable entities in Italy that received donations of medicines by ordinary citizens on the National Collection Day last February 13.

Speaking on Wednesday at the launch, the president of the “Medicina Sociale” Association that participates in the project said:  “We are proud to be able to contribute to the initiative promoted by Pope Francis to open a solidarity medicine counter in St. Peter’s Square. It is a gesture of true mercy and we cannot remain indifferent.”

The 2016 XVI National Medicine Collection Day is currently present in 94 Italian provinces. However it aims to consolidate and expand its activities through the structured and continuous contribution of an ever growing number of volunteers and pharmacies to be able to respond more efficiently to the increasing number of requests it receives for medicines from charity organizations.

The National Day is promoted by the non-profit “Banco Farmaceutico Foundation” which also provides broader support to the poor.

It currently receives donations from over 30 pharmaceutical companies, from pharmacies and operates to recover unexpired medicines from private individuals.

 

 

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IRAQ COMES TO VATICAN INSIDER – SYNOD SENDS MESSAGE, PRAYERS TO FAMILIES IN CONFLICT AREAS – OPENNESS TO LIFE, MARRIAGE PREPARATION, PARENTS AS FIRST EDUCATORS – CHURCH MUST LISTEN MORE TO LAITY ON FAMILY ISSUES – ”THE CHURCH MUST SERVE THE TRUTH”

First, some non-synod news: The 2014 Nobel Peace prize was announced this morning and went to children’s rights activists Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan and Kailash Satyarthi of India. As of yesterday many oddsmakers had Pope Francis the winner – one name among well over 200 on the list of nominees. I went to the Nobel website last night to possibly learn more (you can watch the announcement live on their website if you are in front of a computer at 11 am on October 10 each year). I did learn the following: The Nobel Prize and Prize in Economic Sciences have been awarded to women 46 times between 1901 and 2014; Two people – Jean-Paul Sartre and Le Duc Tho – both declined the Nobel Prize, Sartre in 1964 and Le Duc Tho in 1973; 49 out of all Laureates were younger than 40 years old at the year of the award. Most of them are Physics Laureates. I also learned that Alfred Nobel was a scientist and businessman, spoke 5 languages fluently at the age of 17, worked as a chemist, engineer and industrialist, invented dynamite in 1866 and left a controversial will, leaving the equivalent today of $265 and specifying that the bulk of his fortune should be used for prizes – in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature and peace.

For the synod summaries, I have made ample use of the VIS reports on Thursday’s 8th Congregation and this morning’s 9th Congregation.

IRAQ COMES TO VATICAN INSIDER

Because my tape recorder broke and I lost the interviews I had planned for this weekend and next, Vatican Insider this week will re-air an interview I did not too long ago with an amazing group of English-speaking Iraqi Catholic students who were in Rome for educational purposes and to visit the Vatican. This seems like a propitious time to air this conversation not only because the world’s spotlight is on the violence and immense suffering in the Middle East, but because the people of that region, especially Iraq and Syria, are in the thoughts and prayers of the synod fathers. In fact, today the synod addressed a Message to families who suffer as a result of conflicts, as you will see in the next story.

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SYNOD SENDS MESSAGE, PRAYERS TO FAMILIES IN CONFLICT AREAS

Following is the Message from the Synod on the Family to families who suffer as a result of conflicts:

“Gathered around the Successor of the Apostle Peter, we the Synod Fathers of the Third Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, along with all participants, share the paternal concern of the Holy Father, expressing our profound closeness to all the families who suffer as a consequence of the many conflicts in progress.

“In particular, we raise to the Lord our prayers for Iraqi and Syrian families, forced on account of their profession of the Christian faith or their belonging to other ethnic or religious communities, to abandon everything and flee towards a future without any form of certainty. We join with the Holy Father Francis in emphasizing that no-one may use the name of God to commit violence, and that to kill in the name of God is a grave sacrilege. Offering thanks to International Organisations and Countries for their solidarity, we invite persons of good will to offer the necessary assistance and aid to the innocent victims of the current barbarism, and at the same time we implore the international community to act to re-establish peaceful co-existence in Iraq, in Syria, and in all the Middle East.

“Equally, our thoughts go to those families that are torn apart and suffering in other parts of the world, and who suffer persistent violence. We wish to assure them of our constant prayer that the Lord may convert hearts and bring peace and stability to those who are now in need.

“May the Holy Family of Nazareth, which suffered on the painful road of exile make every family a community of love and reconciliation a source of hope for the whole world.”

OPENNESS TO LIFE, MARRIAGE PREPARATION, PARENTS AS FIRST EDUCATORS

On Thursday afternoon at the eighth general Congregation, the general debate continued on “The Challenge of Upbringing in General / Christian Education in Difficult Family Situations.”

In discussions relating to openness to life, the faithful were invited to better know Paul VI’s Encyclical, Humanae Vitae, to thus better understand natural methods of fertility control and the non-acceptance of contraception. Some synod fathers noted the tendency of several states and organisations based in the Western world to present, especially in the context of Africa, various concepts (including abortion and homosexual unions) as “human rights” linked to economic aid and strong pressure campaigns for the promotion of such concepts. It was noted that the expression “rights to sexual and reproductive health” (used in the United Nations, for example) does not have a precise definition in international law and ends up encompassing mutually contradictory principles such as the condemnation of forced abortion and the promotion of safe abortion, or the protection of maternity and the promotion of contraception.

Synod Fathers universally have reiterated the importance of adequate preparation for marriage, as its celebration seems to be increasingly reduced to the social and legal status, rather than a religious and spiritual bond. The preparatory course, it was noted, is often perceived by couples as an imposition, a task to complete without conviction, and as a result it is too brief. Since marriage is a vocation for life, preparation for it should be long and detailed, as in the case of preparation for religious life.

The participants insisted on the importance of good preparation for priests in relation to the pastoral care of marriage and the family, and remarked that homilies can be used as a special and effective moment for proclaiming the Gospel of the family to the faithful.

With regard to streamlining procedures to verify matrimonial nullity, it was noted that a special study Commission for the reform of the canonical marriage nullification process was instituted by the Holy Father Francis on September 20th.

During the hour dedicated to free discussion – 6 to 7 p.m. – three themes emerged in particular: 1. with regard to divorced and remarried persons, the need for a penitential path was highlighted, to be accompanied by reflection on the case of divorced persons who remain alone and suffer in silence, at the margins of social life. Secondly, mention was made of the need to protect the children of divorced couples from suffering the psychological affects of their parents’ divorce. Some noted. in this respect, that adequate pastoral care of children often causes their parents to draw closer to the Church.
Thirdly, the importance of the relationship between the family and the education of children was affirmed, with particular reference to parents’ right to choose the most suitable educational plan for their children, so that they may receive a quality education.

CHURCH MUST LISTEN MORE TO LAITY ON FAMILY ISSUES

The 15 interventions Friday morning in the synod hall (6 couples and 9 individual Auditors), were almost exclusively from laypersons from different countries who are engaged in the fields of family pastoral care, bioethics and human ecology.

For openers, mention was made of the difficulties experienced by families living in the Middle East, especially in Iraq where conflicts have serious repercussions on families, divided by the death of their members, forced to migrate in search of a safe place to live, deprived of a future for the young who are removed from schools or for the elderly who are abandoned to their own devices. The unity of the Christian family in the Middle East is profoundly disrupted, with consequences also for the social and national unity of the countries in the region. Faced with such dramatic situations, the Church truly represents a safe haven, a “family of families” that offers comfort and hope.

Auditors spoke of the need for the Church to listen more to laypeople in the search for solutions to the problems of families, especially in relation to the sphere of intimacy in the life of couples. There must be synergy between the academic world and the pastoral world, so as to form not “technicians” but rather pastoral workers who know and understand how to promote the themes of family and life through a solid Catholic overall anthropological vision.

They also highlighted the need for greater dialogue between Church and State in promoting the protection of the rights of the family and the defense of life. The laity must be active and competent in the public square re: the values of life and the family.

Interventions repeated the need to adequately and permanently prepare priests in relation to themes regarding the family, especially in relation to openness to life, so that they are able to explain and speak naturally and clearly about conjugal love. Emphasis was on natural family planning, highlighting its positive worth and how it can strengthen the life of the couple.

Great importance was attached to witness: the young do not need theory, but they clearly understand the centrality of the family if it is demonstrated by families themselves, credible witnesses and subjects of evangelisation.

Time was devoted to the suffering of those who lose a family member: widows and widowers, orphans, or parents who lose a child. For these people, the accompaniment of the Church is fundamental, through support groups and sharing, so that they do not become lost in the profound anguish of loss, and the fear of a “desert” of emotions, but remain firm in their faith.

”THE CHURCH MUST SERVE THE TRUTH”

Italian news agency ANSA has reported that a senior prelate insisted Tuesday that marriage cannot be dissolved and that “starting a new union contradicts what the Lord has indicated.” ANSA quoted Archbishop Georg Gaenswein, prefect of the papal household who made the remarks in an interview with “Chi” magazine. Excerpts were released in advance at the start of the synod of bishops on the family.

The archbishop, who is also private secretary to Pope emeritus Benedict XVI, said, “Gays must be received with respect but their acts are contrary to natural law. …The Church must have the courage to express its convictions as otherwise it would not be in the service of truth.” Asked by the magazine about the question of possibly allowing divorced people to take communion, he said, “this is a very delicate question, at stake is the sacramental matrimony that according to Catholic doctrine cannot be dissolved, just like the love of God for man. As far as I can see Pope Francis is following the line of his predecessors whose teaching on matrimony is very clear.”

POPE FRANCIS CALLS FOR CONSISTORY ON MIDDLE EAST – VATICAN CONFIRMS PAPAL TRIPS IN 2015 TO LOURDES, PARIS – THE IMPORTANCE OF LANGUAGE, AND OTHER NOVELTIES OF THE 2014 SYNOD – FROM THE SYNOD, IN A NUTSHELL

(From: Tuesday, October 7, 2014)

POPE FRANCIS CALLS FOR CONSISTORY ON MIDDLE EAST

The Vatican announced today that a consistory for the causes of saints has been expanded to include a discussion of the situation facing Christians in the Middle East. The announcement was made by the dean of the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, during this morning’s meeting of the Extraordinary Synod. The change was made especially in light of the recent meeting of apostolic nuncios from the Middle East here in Rome.

All cardinals in Rome, including those here for the Synod, are invited to attend the consistory. The principle relator at the consistory will be Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin.

The consistory will take place in the Vatican on October 20th.

The announcement comes as the Custody of the Holy Land confirmed that Franciscan Fr. Hanna Jallouf of the Custody of the Holy Land, and parish priest at Knayeh (Qunayeh), Syria, was abducted on Sunday night  by some brigades linked to the Jahbat Al-Nusra militant group. Along with Fr. Hanna, several men of the Christian village were also taken. A number of nuns managed to escape and found refuge in nearby houses.

VATICAN CONFIRMS PAPAL TRIPS IN 2015 TO LOURDES, PARIS

Pope Francis is adding another trip to his 2015 travel agenda that already includes Sri Lanka and the Philippines in January: The Vatican has, in fact, confirmed he will visit France next year, stopping off in Paris and Lourdes. It is highly likely that the Holy Father’s 2015 pilgrimages will also include Philadelphia in September 2015 for the World Meeting of Families.

Pope Francis’ next scheduled trip is at the end of November when he will travel to Strasbourg to address the European Parliament. He will leave several days later for Turkey for a brief visit.

THE IMPORTANCE OF LANGUAGE, AND OTHER NOVELTIES OF THE 2014 SYNOD

I had television commitments and interviews today so was unable to attend the daily press briefing but the following is an excellent summary from Vatican Radio:

Journalists heard how the bishops meeting on the second full day of the Synod for the Family have been discussing the importance of using more inclusive language to talk about people living outside the teachings of the Church. They’ve also been stressing the need for a ‘gradual’ or ‘stepping stones’ approach to couples, and the recognition that elements of truth also exist in those relationships which do not conform to the Church’s ideal vision of family life.

The head of the Holy See Press Office, Fr Federico Lombardi and his assistants, spoke of the many different subjects under discussion on the first two days of the Synod, in particular the need for a more sensitive and inclusive language about family life that will not turn people away from the Church. Canadian Fr Tom Rosica gave some specific examples from the English speaking bishops present at the meeting:

“Language such as ‘living in sin,’ ‘intrinsically disordered,’ or ‘contraceptive mentality’ are not necessarily words that invite people to draw closer to Christ and the Church.”

Synod participants have also been underlining the need to apply the so-called ‘law of graduality’ or ‘stepping stones approach’ as they minister to people living in all kinds of relationships that do not conform to the Church’s ideal of marriage and family life.

Philippa Hitchens reported on Vatican Radio:

Fr Lombardi used an analogy from the Second Vatican Council which led to profound changes in the Catholic Church’s relations with other Christians and people of other religious traditions. During the Council, bishops agreed that while the fullness of Christ’s Church “subsists” only in the Catholic Church, important elements of truth and holiness also exist in other churches and faith communities. In a similar way, he said, valid and important elements of true love and holiness can also exist in a relationship that does not conform to the full vision of an ideal Catholic marriage.

English Cardinal Vincent Nichols and Lebanese Cardinal Bechara Boutros Rai also shared impressions from the Synod Hall, including the call for a special message for families being persecuted for their Christian faith Iraq. They spoke about Synod Fathers who live in countries where Catholics are a tiny minority and who say the Church has much to learn from the wisdom and experience of other religious traditions.

Cardinal Nichols also described the very open and relaxed atmosphere of the Synod and the importance of hearing married couples share details of their relationships, including the pivotal role that sex plays in the life of most married couples:

“The Australian couple were quite explicit and developed in their thought and emphasis on the central role of sexuality and sexual intercourse in their marriage – now that’s not what we bishops talk about mostly! But to hear that as the opening contribution did open up an area which others followed and it was a recognition that it is often central to the wellbeing of a marriage.”

Cardinal Nichols pointed out it’s too early to draw any conclusions from these first sessions, yet it does seem clear that this first synod of Francis’ pontificate is shaping up for a much more honest and down-to-earth discussion than most bishops have experienced here in the Vatican over recent decades.

KEEP UP WITH THE SYNOD AT: http://synod14.vatican.va/content/sinodo/it/sinodo2014/events/topic.html/content/sinodoevents/it/2014/10/1/sinododeivescovi

Today, in particular, you’ll want to listen to the video interview with Australian couple Ron and Mavis Pirola. I have heard they received a standing ovation after their talk in the synod hall. There is also a nulti-lingual summary of the Monday afternoon session of the synod.

For the entire list of participants, click here:

http://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/en/bollettino/pubblico/2014/09/09/0620/01369.html

FROM THE SYNOD, IN A NUTSHELL

–     Pope Francis said in an interview with the Argentinian daily La Nación, “It is important for everyone to be able to express their ideas in complete freedom. Governance of the Church is another matter. That is in my hands, after appropriate consultations.”

–   The Holy Father also said on Monday: “Synod is always conducted cum Petro et sub Petro [with Peter and under Peter] and the presence of the Pope is a guarantee for all and a safeguard for the faith.”

–     Is renewal in the air? The synod’s special secretary, Archbishop Bruno Forte of Chieti-Vasto, a theologian, said: “If we were to repeat what has always been said, there would be no point in holding another synod.”

–     Abp. Forte also defined the synod’s work and focus on Monday at the press conference: “Souls to save, that’s what a ‘pastoral’ synod means. Doctrine is not an abstract value in itself, a bludgeon to be hammered home all the time. Doctrine is the message of salvation and at its center is the charity of God, mercy, compassion. It is necessary to look at people.”

 

JOAN’S DAY AT A GLANCE – POPE FRANCIS’ DAY AT A GLANCE

JOAN’S DAY AT A GLANCE

This morning in St. Peter’s Basilica I attended the annual diaconate ordination of 43 seminarians from the North American College. This is a very special day for these young men and their families and friends – it is always beautiful, solemn, joyful and moving! I have been so close to the entire NAC family for so many years – the successive rectors, the staff and the young men studying there – that the diaconate ordination becomes a red letter day on their calendar and mine! Today was also, as you can imagine, a beautiful day for the Church!

The entire day – Mass and the reception at NAC – was glorious! Right now it is late and I am supposed to go to dinner but have not yet uploaded photos to Facebook (www.facebook.com/joan.lewis.10420) or my 3 videos to Youtube (www.youtube.com/joansrome) . I’ll do what I can before I leave for dinner and tell more of this beautiful story tomorrow – the wonderful people I met – the many fans of Joan’s Rome who are in town (!), etc.

In the meantime here’s a look at Pope Francis’ very full Thursday!

POPE FRANCIS’ DAY AT A GLANCE

DAILY HOMILY: GUARDIAN ANGELS, “OUR COMPANIONS ON LIFE’S JOURNEY” Guardian angels exist, they are not [the fruit of] imaginative doctrine, but companions that God has placed beside us on our life’s journey said Pope Francis Thursday morning at Mass at Casa Santa Marta, on the day when the Church celebrates the Feast of the Holy Guardian Angels.

“According to the tradition of the Church, we all have an angel with us, who protects us, helps us hear things. How often have we heard: ‘I should do this, I should not do this, that’s not right, be careful …’: so often! It is the voice of our traveling companion. Be sure that he will guide us to the end of our lives with advice, and so listen to his voice, don’t rebel against it…because rebellion, the desire to be independent, is something that we all have; this is arrogance, the same arrogance of our father Adam in paradise: the very same. Do not rebel: follow his advice”.

CHARITY IN TRUTH IS THE BASIS FOR PEACE

Pope Francis on Thursday met with participants of the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. In his address, the Holy Father noted the assembly coincides with the fifth anniversary of Benedict XVI’s encyclical “Caritas in veritate,” which Pope Francis called “a foundational document for the evangelization of the social sphere.”

The Holy Father said “it is necessary to keep alive concern for the poor and social justice,” which must involve the sharing of the riches that are produced and “the universalization of free markets in the service of families.” There must also be “the redistribution of sovereignty, both on the national and supra-national levels. Caritas in veritate also addressed other current social issues, including environmental concerns, and especially the link between “environmental ecology and human ecology.”

“WE ARE CLOSE IN FAITH, PERSECUTION”

“No religious, political or economic motives can justify what is happening to hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women and children:”  these are Pope Francis’ words Thursday, calling what is happening to Christians and other minorities in Iraq and Syria “daily persecution.” He was speaking in a audience to Catholicos Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East, Mar Dinkha IV.  The Patriarch is head of one of the oldest Christian churches – tracing its roots back to the first century in Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey.  Though theological discussions are on-going.

In his remarks, Pope Francis noted the suffering that we share from the wars that are crossing different regions in the Middle East and, in particular, from the violence that Christians and the faithful of other religious minorities are subjected to, especially in Iraq and in Syria.”

MIDDLE EAST PAPAL REPRESENTATIVES GATHER IN THE VATICAN TO DISCUSS THE SITUATION OF CHRISTIANS IN THE REGION

The papal representatives in the Middle East are meeting in the Vatican from October 2 to 4, at the Holy Father’s behest, to discuss the presence of Christians in the region, given the grave situation that has prevailed in recent months. The meeting began this morning at the Secretariat of State and was attended by the officials of the Secretariat of State and the Roman Curia directly linked with the issue, as well as the Holy See Permanent Observers at the United Nations in New York and Geneva, and the apostolic nuncio to the European Union. The meeting demonstrates the Holy Father’s closeness and interest in this important question. He opened the meeting, thanking the participants convened to pray and reflect together on what to do to approach the dramatic situation experienced by Christians in the Middle East, along with other religious and ethnic minorities who suffer as a result of the violence that continues to rage throughout the region.

POPE TO EUROPE: OPEN THE DOORS OF YOUR HEART

Last evening Pope Francis met with survivors of the October 3, 2013 Lampedusa migrant tragedy when about 370 people, mostly Eritrean and Syrian asylum-seekers, drowned when the overcrowded boat they were traveling on capsized off the island of Lampedusa. About 50 survivors of that tragedy, mostly living in northern Europe, will travel to Lampedusa Thursday as they press for an international day of memorial for the thousands who perish at sea each year trying to reach Europe.
On the eve of the one-year anniversary of that devastating shipwreck, Pope Francis met privately with the delegation, confessing that he had difficulty in expressing himself to them.  He told them “words are not enough to describe what you have suffered, this can only be contemplated in silence, with tears and by trying to find a way to be close to you.” Francis has called on the men and women of Europe to ‘open the doors of their hearts’ and welcome migrants who risk their lives at sea to flee war and poverty.”