JANEK SKARZYNSKI/AFP/Getty Images
by Virginia Hale28 Jul 2016
Pope Francis demanded Poland “overcome fear” and open their borders to Muslim migrants who are “fleeing wars and hunger”. The pontiff claimed wars are nothing to do with religion as “all religions want peace”.As Europe is beset almost daily by Islamic terror attacks, the Pope chastised Poland’s government for refusing to accept thousands of migrants from the Middle East and Africa. He said opening the country’s borders would take “great wisdom and compassion”.
Headlining World Youth Day in Krakow the pontiff said that many Poles had emigrated, and so urged the country to understand why migrants are now arriving in Europe. He said: “We must not be afraid to say the truth, the world is at war because it has lost peace.”
Alluding to Poles’ reluctance to accept Muslim migrants, the Pope declared that none of the conflict in the world is related to religion in any way.
He said: “When I speak of war I speak of wars over interests, money, resources, not religion. All religions want peace, it’s the others who want war.”
Seventy per cent of Poles don’t want their nation to accept Muslim migrants.
Pope Francis urged Poland to welcome migrants “fleeing” from a number of things including “hunger” and the lack of “fundamental rights”.
He told the crowd in Krakow: “You need a willingness to accept people fleeing from wars and hunger; solidarity with people deprived of their fundamental rights, including freedom and safety to profess their faith.”
While Poles hold their countryman Pope John Paul II in great respect, the current pontiff has alienated many in the country. Journalist Katarzyna Wisniewska wrote that for a Catholic country, Poland is in an unusual position with Pope Francis’ visit. “Nobody here is waiting for the Pope,” she stated.
In Poland’s edition of Newsweek magazine, Jaroslaw Makowski wrote: “It is no secret that the message of Francis is ignored by the Polish clergy.”
Speaking about the Pope’s message, Polish politician Beata Kempa remarked that the country is already rehousing refugees from Donbass, the heavily-shelled region of Ukraine. The head of the Prime Minister’s Office also pointed out that Poland has more than a million economic migrants.
Asked whether the government would “follow the teachings of the Pope” and open Poland’s borders to migrants from the Middle East and Africa, Ms. Kempa noted that they are donating generously to causes like refugee camps in Jordan.
Aid to such camps is best, she argued, as migrants can be in “their natural environment, where they feel best. Where they will be able to get back, after the war, to their homes. This is most important.”
The Pope’s headline appearance at World Youth Day was overshadowed by news that Islamists in France had beheaded an 85 year old Catholic priest during morning mass.
Yesterday, Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydło called on Germany to “explain” the country being hit by “terror attacks on a daily basis”. Germany took in more than a million migrants in 2015, the majority of them Muslim.