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Pope on Europe's migrant crisis: 'stop this shipwreck of civilization'

The Hill logo The Hill 12/6/2021 Monique Beals
Pope on Europe's migrant crisis: 'stop this shipwreck of civilization' © Getty Images Pope on Europe's migrant crisis: 'stop this shipwreck of civilization'

Pope Francis on Sunday called the exploitation of and global indifference to migrants a "shipwreck of civilization."

His remarks came during a visit to the Greek island of Lesbos, where the pope greeted refugees on a walk through the Mavrovouni camp, which holds roughly 2,300 people, according to Reuters.

"Please, let us stop this shipwreck of civilization!" he said Sunday.

Five years ago, Pope Francis visited the island and took 12 Syrian refugees back with him, Reuters reported.


Video: Pope promises to help moribund Lebanon rise again (Reuters)

But on Sunday, he said that "little has changed" since his first trip, calling the Mediterranean, where migrants have died en route from Africa to Europe, "a grim cemetery without tombstones."

Sunday also marked the second consecutive day that the pontiff has criticized those who have used migrants as political pawns, according to Reuters.

"It is easy to stir up public opinion by instilling fear of others," he said. "Yet why do we fail to speak with equal vehemence about the exploitation of the poor, about seldom-mentioned but often well-financed wars, about economic agreements where the people have to pay, about covert deals to traffic in arms, favoring the proliferation of the arms trade?"

He added that "the remote causes should be attacked, not the poor people who pay the consequences and are even used for political propaganda."

"We are in the age of walls and barbed wire," the pope said.

Greece has long been a primary entry point for migrants and refugees seeking to make their way into the European Union. In 2015, hundreds of thousands of people arrived on Lesbos after crossing on boats from Turkey, Reuters added.

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