Pope Francis Urges Catholics to Shelter Refugees as Europe Contends With Migrant Crisis - NBC New York
2015 Papal Visit

2015 Papal Visit

Pope Francis' First U.S. Visit, Sept. 22-27

Pope Francis Urges Catholics to Shelter Refugees as Europe Contends With Migrant Crisis

He said it's not enough to say, "Have courage, hang in there"

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    Pope Francis called on every Catholic parish, convent, monastery and sanctuary in Europe to shelter refugees "fleeing death" from war and hunger as thousands of migrants streamed into Germany and Austria after being stuck in Hungary for days.

    The pontiff cited Mother Teresa, the European-born nun who cared for the poorest in India, in making his appeal as he addressed tens of thousands of pilgrims and tourists in St. Peter's Square Sunday. Francis said the Vatican's two parishes are also taking in two families of refugees.

    "The Gospel calls us to be neighbors to the smallest and most abandoned, to give them concrete hope," Francis said, adding that it's not enough to say, "Have courage, hang in there."

    Chancellor Angela Merkel planned to discuss Europe's migrant crisis with her coalition partners Sunday, as Syrians, Iraqis and others fleeing war and persecution streamed into Germany for the second straight day.

    Stefano Rellandini/Pool Photo via AP

    Thousands arrived in Germany by way of Austria by train, bus and car on Saturday. Most went to Munich, the Bavarian capital, where authorities said some 7,000 people were registered and over half received a bed for the night.

    The Christian Social Union, the socially-conservative wing of Merkel's center-right bloc, has criticized the decision to open Germany's borders to migrants and refugees stuck in Hungary, the dpa news agency reported.

    Most Germans have been welcoming of the migrants. But far-right groups have protested their arrival, including in Dortmund overnight.

    Chancellor Merkel has warned that extremist groups might try to take advantage of the situation to stoke people's prejudices against refugees. Authorities estimate that up to 800,000 people could apply for asylum in Germany by the end of the year.

    Germany's opposition Left Party, meanwhile, said the United States was to blame for the migrant crisis originating in the Middle East because it had indirectly supported terrorist groups in the region.

    "If the German government had a little bit of courage it would at least ask the United States, as the main cause of the refugee tragedy, to pay some of the costs," dpa quoted Sahra Wagenknecht, a senior Left Party lawmaker, as saying.

    Meanwhile, Finland's Finland's millionaire prime minister Juha Sipila — a former telecoms executive — said on Saturday he would make his home in the north of the country available to refugees.

    Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris said in a Twitter post he was looking into buying an island from Greece or Italy to house the outpouring of Syrian regufees and migrants. Sawiris told Forbes he will send formal letters to Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi on Sunday.