Pope Francis met with refugees and asylum seekers on March 18, offering remarks that praised the creation of humanitarian corridors and emphasized the importance of governments and non-governmental organizations identifying and welcoming vulnerable people.

Established in 2016, Europe’s humanitarian corridors were create by an ecumenical group of Christian organizations to provide “a safe and legal programme of transfer and integration in Europe of vulnerable refugees such as minors, disabled people, persons with serious illnesses, single parents with minor children, persons with mental disorders, elderly people.”

This model is currently being studied by the European Union to establish standards, determine best practices and consider how this approach could be adopted and adapted by nations across the EU.

The pope said these corridors are “more necessary than ever,” citing the continued tragedies in which migrants drown in the Mediterranean following a shipwreck. These corridors help curb human trafficking, he said, by providing safe, legal immigration pathways.

“Identifying and welcoming vulnerable people seeks to respond in the most appropriate way to a sign of the times,” Pope Francis said, noting that this practice helps to counter a tendency toward insularity and isolation that would lead to a Europe that is “frozen, fearful and lacking vision for the future.”

Simply providing a pathway to immigrate isn’t sufficient, he emphasized. There must be a plan and process for both welcoming and integrating migrants into the nations that receive them. Citing Leviticus 19:34, the pontiff noted that “there is no acceptance without integration.”

The pope said that Jesus’ words in Matthew 25:35 – “I was a stranger, and you welcomed me” – should inspire and guide the continuation of these corridors. “Those words point all of us toward the path we must take,” he said. “A path that needs to be travelled together and with perseverance.”

A transcript of the speech is available here.

Share This