According to a press release issued today by the Apostolic Almoner, the parish community of St. Anna in the Vatican has received a family of refugees, consisting of a father, mother and two children. They are Syrian, Christians of the Catholic Greek-Melkite rite, and fled from their war-torn home city of Damascus, arriving in the Vatican on Sunday, Sept. 6.
That was the same day that, during the Angelus, the Pope launched an appeal to each parish, religious community, monastery and shrine of Europe to offer shelter to a refugee family.
The four members of the family will stay in an apartment in the Vatican, near St. Peter’s. The procedures for requesting international protection were initiated immediately. According to the law, for the first six months after presenting the request for asylum, applicants may not accept paid work. In this period they will be assisted and accompanied by the St. Anna parish community. Until the decision is made in Italy as to whether or not their status of refugee will be granted, further information regarding this family cannot be given.
The Vatican requested that they not be sought for interviews by the media.
With regard to the accommodation of a second family in the Vatican parish of St. Peter’s, the Almoner is not currently able to provide further information.
In this context of Christian charity towards those who flee war and famine, it is worth highlighting that for many years the Popes, through the Apostolic Almoner, have contributed to the payment of taxes for the issue of stay permits for refugees through the Centro Astalli, directed by the Jesuits (since 2014, 50,000 euros have been disbursed for this purpose). In addition, the Almoner, again on behalf of the Pope, helps many individuals and families of refugees on a daily basis, as well as meeting needs, including healthcare, for many reception centres located in Rome.
Furthermore, for some days a modern mobile clinic, donated to the Pope a few years ago and so far reserved solely for events at which he presides, was made available several times a week to assist refugees in reception centres, including irregular ones, situated in the outskirts of Rome. The volunteers, who are doctors, nurses and Swiss Guards, are employees of Vatican City State institutions, the University of Rome at Tor Vergata, and members of the Association of the “Medicina Solidale Onlus” Institute.