Pope seeks to revive European dream in call for migrants to be welcomed

Pope Francis on Friday lamented a Europe he said had grown weary and entrenched as he urged the continent not to see migrants as criminals. Francis made his pointed comments in the presence of top EU leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi and the presidents of the European Parliament, Commission and Council. “I dream of a Europe that cares for children, that offers fraternal help to the poor and those newcomers seeking acceptance because they have lost everything and need shelter … I dream of a Europe where being a migrant is not a crime,” he said. The pope was speaking at a ceremony in the Vatican’s frescoed Sala Regia to award him the Charlemagne Prize, conferred to those who have contributed most to the ideals of post-war Europe.

What has happened to you, Europe, the mother of peoples and nations, the mother of great men and women who upheld, and even sacrificed their lives for, the dignity of their brothers and sisters?

Pope Francis

Meanwhile, nearly 1,800 migrants have been plucked from boats trying to reach Italy from north Africa in the past 24 hours, the navy said on Friday. They were rescued in 10 operations involving the Italian navy, coastguard and finance police, the European Union’s external borders agency Frontex and the medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres. The migrants were being taken by the Italian frigate Grecale to the Sicilian port of Augusta, where they were expected to arrive on Saturday morning. The surge in rescues is being seen as a sign the numbers trying to reach Europe are rising again now winter is over.

Even though there are different views on the financing, we have the same opinion on the overall effort.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi