VATICAN CITY (CNS) — At a luncheon that was part reunion and part progress report, Pope Francis invited 21 Syrian refugees to join him at the Vatican Aug. 11.
The pope’s lunch guests included the 12 refugees — three married couples and six children — Pope Francis brought back to Rome with him from Lesbos, Greece, in April and another nine Syrian refugees who arrived in Rome in mid-June with Vatican assistance.
While the Vatican is covering the living costs of the 21 refugees, they are being housed and resettled by the Community of Sant’Egidio, a lay community based in Rome. The community runs a large Italian language school for refugees, which the Syrians are attending.
Greg Burke, Vatican spokesman, said both the adults and the children had a chance to talk to Pope Francis about beginning their new lives in Italy. “The children gave the Holy Father a collection of their drawings, and the pope reciprocated with toys and other gifts.”
Joining Pope Francis and the refugees for the lunch in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, where the pope lives, were: Archbishop Angelo Becciu, a top official in the Vatican Secretariat of State; Andrea Riccardi, founder of the Community of Sant’Egidio, and other community members; Domenico Gianni and two other members of the Vatican police force, who assisted in getting the families from Lesbos to Italy.
Members of the Sant’Egidio Community helped the Vatican interview refugees in Greece and choose families that both the Greek and Italian governments would provide with the necessary travel papers in time for the papal flight. Of the 21 refugees, one married couple is Christian, the others are Muslim.
Help keep Catholic media free, support CatholicPhilly.com
You may have noticed “pay walls” greeting you when you visit the websites of newspapers and magazines, both large and small. These mechanisms allow you to read a few articles for free before you’ve got to pay an annual fee if you want to see more.
You won’t find a pay wall on CatholicPhilly.com because we’re more than a news organization. We’re informing, inspiring and forming readers in the Catholic faith every day through the news, features and commentaries that we post on this site and share across social media.
It costs money to provide high-quality coverage of the local Catholic communities we primarily serve, while also distributing national and world news of interest to Catholics, plus the orthodox teachings of the Catholic faith.
Help us in this mission by making a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
or by credit card: