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Greek bishop fears violence in face of migrant crisis

April 14, 2016

As Pope Francis and Orthodox leaders prepare to visit to the island of Lesbos, the president of the Catholic bishops’ conference in Greece warned that the migrant crisis might give rise to increasing violence.

853,650 of the one million migrants and refugees who entered Europe in 2015 did so by entering Greece, a nation of under 11 million. An additional 153,156 migrants and refugees arrived in Greece by sea between January 1 and April 11, according to the International Organization for Migration.

On Lesbos and nearby islands, migrants began to outnumber residents in September, Bishop Franghískos Papamanólis told L’Osservatore Romano. Because tourism is the mainstay of the local economy, the islands have been devastated by the cancellation of tourist reservations, and the Church has fewer resources to assist those in need.

Citing the case of a mother who had to bathe her baby in mud, Bishop Papamanólis expressed understanding for migrants who are angry about the inhumane conditions in which they live. He praised Catholics for bringing food, water, and other necessities to the migrants.

At the same time, Bishop Papamanólis expressed understanding for residents who fear the looting of shops for food, as well as for the plight of the government, which is out of funds.

As gun sales surge, the prelate said that the situation could become increasingly violent. “The situation now is not peaceful,” he said, “and I do not know how it will develop.”

 
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