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Pope proposes opening empty convents to refugees

September 10, 2013

Pope Francis proposed using empty convents as shelters for refugees, during a September 10 visit to a Jesuit refugee center in Rome.

“What good are closed convents to the Church?” the Pontiff asked during a visit to the Astalli Center, which hosts 700 refugees—including recent arrivals from Syria. “Empty convents don’t help the Church by being turned into hotels to make money,” the Pope added.

The Pope’s Tuesday-afternoon visit to the Astalli Center came two months after his dramatic trip to Lampedusa, an island that is the first point of arrival for thousands of refugees headed for Europe. At Lampedusa the Pope had challenged Christians to recognize the severity of the refugee problem. “Today no one in our world feels responsible,” he lamented.

At the center in Rome, the Pope said that European natives should not be fearful of immigrants from other continents, and Christians should be prepared to welcome Muslims. “We mustn’t be afraid of differences,” he said.


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  • Posted by: Baseballbuddy - Sep. 15, 2013 2:07 PM ET USA

    One might ask why are those convents empty?

  • Posted by: samuel.doucette1787 - Sep. 11, 2013 7:23 AM ET USA

    Regarding Muslims, I agree with filioque. I too try to give everyone who looks different than me the benefit of the doubt. With Muslims, the historical record proves that once they achieve a critical mass and take power in places where they are currently minorities, everyone else's rights to religious freedom are trampled on.

  • Posted by: filioque - Sep. 10, 2013 6:57 PM ET USA

    The problem of refugees obviously begins in the home country, but often little is said about the political oppression, economic knavery, and aggressive warfare that people are fleeing. As for Muslims coming to Europe, I am afraid that that experience has not been positive. I am not afraid of someone who likes different food or wears strange hats. I am afraid of someone who does not recognize my moral and political values and religion and is determined to suppress them. That's the problem.

  • Posted by: Defender - Sep. 10, 2013 4:24 PM ET USA

    Using empty convents, etc, sounds a lot like Pius XII during WWII, doesn't it?