Pope Francis: Refugees are ending up in a ‘desert of humanity’
Pope Francis has said that refugees forced to flee their homes often end up in a “desert of humanity”.
The Pope made the remark in a message celebrating the 40th anniversary of a Jesuit-run refugee centre in Rome.
“The last 40 years of human history have also not been a linear progression: the number of people forced to flee their homelands continues to grow,” he wrote in the letter.
“Many of you have had to flee from living conditions comparable to those of slavery, where at base is a concept of the human person deprived of his or her dignity and treated as an object.”
Continuing, the Pope said that he is fully aware of how “terrible and despicable war can be, what it means to live without freedom and rights, watching helplessly as your land dries up and your water becomes polluted. You have no other option but to set out towards a safe place where you can realise your dreams and aspirations, where you can use your talents and skills”.
Croatian president raises plight of Bosnia’s Catholic minority
Croatia’s President Zoran Milanović highlighted the situation of the Catholic minority in Bosnia and Herzegovina during a visit to the Vatican on Monday.
The Holy See press office said that after meeting with Pope Francis, Milanović held discussions with Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin and “foreign minister” Archbishop Paul Gallagher.
“During the cordial discussions, the parties expressed their appreciation for the good existing bilateral relations, and the intention to further develop collaboration,” it said.
The office also revealed that several international and regional issues were discussed, “including the situation of the Croatian people in Bosnia and Herzegovina”.
Catholics — most of whom are Croats — are a minority in Bosnia, comprising 15% of the population, according to a 2013 census. Half of the population is Muslim and around 30% belong to the Serbian Orthodox Church.
Cardinal Vinko Puljić of Sarajevo said last year that up to 10,000 Catholics leave Bosnia and Herzegovina every year. Reasons for this mass exodus of Catholics usually involve poor employment opportunities and discrimination towards adherents of the Catholic Faith.
Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church leader thanks Pope Francis for Ukraine support amid multiple crises
The leader of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, expressed his gratitude to the Pope in a private audience at the Vatican.
Archbishop Shevchuk, who has led the largest of the 23 Eastern Catholic Churches in full communion with Rome since 2011, said that in post-Soviet countries the rich were growing richer and the poor even poorer.
He told the Pope that the war in the east of the country was just one of the challenges confronting Ukraine’s 43 million people. The middle class was vanishing, he said, as small and medium-sized businesses were swallowed up by a small number of oligarchs.
The major archbishop said that poverty was rising fast and people were afraid of the coming winter amid an energy crisis.
He thanked the Pope for his prayers and his charitable support for Ukraine, which has helped more than one million people.
Pope Francis has repeatedly appealed for peace in Ukraine, where Ukrainian and Russian forces have clashed since February 2014.