Pope Meets With Syrian Refugees Before Departing for Rome

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew Bids Farewell to Pontiff at Airport

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On the final day of his apostolic visit to Turkey, Pope Francis met with some 100 young refugees from Turkey, Syria, Iraq and other countries from the Middle East and Africa. The young refugees are being served by the Oratory of the Salesian community, which cares for those escaping violent conflicts in the Middle East.

The meeting was the final stop for the 77-year-old Pontiff before his departure to Rome. The Pope told them that he hoped his visit would offer some consolation.

“Yours is the sad consequence of brutal conflicts and war, which are always evils and which never solve problems,» he told them. “Rather, they only create new ones.”

Addressing the lack of homes, health care, education and work for refugees, the Pope repeated his call to the international community to help in solving the conflicts that have caused their woes.

“The degrading conditions in which so many refugees are forced to live are intolerable!” he exclaimed. “For this reason, we must do everything possible to eradicate the causes of this situation.”

The Holy Father also recognized the efforts of Catholic organizations and relief agencies assisting those in need. He further expressed his gratitude to the Turkish authorities “for the great efforts they have made in assisting the displaced, in particular Syrian and Iraqi refugees, and for the authorities’ tangible commitment in trying to meet their needs.”

Encouraging the young refugees, the Pope encouraged them to not lose hope despite the obstacles they are facing. “The Catholic Church is with you, including through the invaluable work of the Salesians,” he said. “Remember always that God does not forget any of his children, and that those who are the smallest and who suffer the most are closest to the Father’s heart.”

Before heading to the airport, Pope Francis assured them that the Church would remain at their side and “hold up your cause before the world.”

Farewell to Istanbul

Pope Francis made his way to the airport as a light rain descended in the evening. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, accompanied by several members of the Orthodox Church, was there to bid him a final farewell.

After saying farewell with an embrace, the Holy Father headed down the tarmac, saluting the Turkish honor guard.

The Pope is expected to land in Rome’s Ciampino airport at 6 pm, local time.

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On ZENIT’s website:

For the Pope’s full address to Syrian refugees, to go: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/pope-francis-address-to-syrian-refugees

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Junno Arocho Esteves

Newark, New Jersey, USA Bachelor of Science degree in Diplomacy and International Relations.

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