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Papal reference to ‘concentration camps’ for Europe’s refugees draws criticism

April 24, 2017

Pope Francis drew new controversy on April 22 when he compared the transit centers for European migrants to “concentration camps.”

During a ceremony at St. Bartholomew’s basilica, which was devoted to honoring present-day Christan martyrs (see today’s separate CWN headline story), the Pope spoke about the refugee camps, and said that “many of them are like concentration camps, because they are so crowded.”

That remark drew a mild rebuke from the American Jewish Committee (AJC). “There is no comparison” between refugee camps and the Nazi concentration camps, said David Harris, the head of the AJC. “The conditions in which migrants are currently living in some European countries may well be difficult, and deserve still greater international attention, but concentration camps they certainly are not.”

The Vatican noted that Pope Francis was speaking without a text, implicitly acknowledging that his chioce of words was unfortunate.


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Show 5 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: jackbene3651 - Apr. 25, 2017 8:39 AM ET USA

    His choice of words is too often 'unfortunate.'

  • Posted by: Bveritas2322 - Apr. 24, 2017 11:54 PM ET USA

    Given half a century of downplaying the idea of the sin of pride, it's not surprising to witness a pope who gives the impression, at least, that he wakes up every morning searching for a new way to prove his moral superiority to the rest of the world, or at least the rest of the Church, including every Catholic of the last 2000 years.

  • Posted by: [email protected] - Apr. 24, 2017 9:17 PM ET USA

    Another off the cuff remark that is so wrong. There is no comparison. Nazi concentration camps were death camps. Refugees are lucky to go the camps they have. Make safe havens for them and send them home not all over Europe and the U.S.

  • Posted by: jalsardl5053 - Apr. 24, 2017 8:51 PM ET USA

    Uhh, I don't think so and I think if the Pope visited and/or was up on his history, this histrionic wouldn't have occurred. And overcrowding does not a concentration camp make.

  • Posted by: james-w-anderson8230 - Apr. 24, 2017 8:08 PM ET USA

    In another place the Pope said “Since we are saved by Jesus, and the prince of the world does not want that, he hates us and encourages persecution, ... ”. Maybe Satan also tempts the Pope to speak without considering how his words can be twisted or misconstrued.