April 19, 2016
Multifaith Alliance Applauds Pope and Patriarch
For Crucial “Hands-On” Support of Syrian Refugees
NEW YORK, April 18, 2016 – The Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees (MFA) applauds Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew for their strong moral leadership in focusing global attention on the worsening plight of Syrian refugees.
During an emotional April 16 visit to the Greek island of Lesbos, Pope Francis capped the unprecedented religious effort by bringing 12 Syrian Muslim refugees, including six children, back to Rome with him.
“This moving initiative sends a strong moral message to the European Union, and the world at large, that the millions of Syrian war victims fleeing terrorism and the violence tearing apart their country deserve to be treated with dignity and compassion, and a safe and secure path to resettlement should be provided,” said Dr. Georgette Bennett, founder of MFA, a project of Tanenbaum. She was referring to a new European Union policy to deport any migrants arriving illegally in Greece back to Turkey.
“By working together, Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew exemplify how important it is for faith leaders and organizations to mobilize in addressing the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II,” said Rabbi Eric J. Greenberg, MFA’s Director of Outreach and Multifaith Relations. “This is the essence of MFA’s mission.” He said it was important to note that the Vatican did not distinguish on the basis of religion when selecting these refugees.
At a ceremony in the port of Lesbos, where he thanked the people of Greece, Pope Francis, leader of the Catholic Church, said he understood Europe’s concern about the recent migrant influx, but stated that migrants are first of all human beings “who have faces, names and individual stories” and deserve to have their most basic human rights respected. “We have come to call the attention of the world to this grave humanitarian crisis and to plead for its resolution,” he said.
“The world will be judged by the way it has treated you”, Patriarch Bartholomew, spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians, told the refugees. “And we will all be accountable for the way we respond to the crisis and conflict in the regions that you come from.”