IN a hugely symbolic gesture, Pope Francis has announced that he is taking 12 Syrian refugees, including six children back to the Vatican with him to enable them to have care and support.
On the flight back to Rome, the Pope said: “All refugees are children of God,” referring to the fact all 12 refugees are Muslim.
Although the gesture is “a drop in the ocean,” according to the pontiff, he hoped “the ocean will never be the same again.”
This comes amid Pope Francis’ visit to the Greek Island of Lesbos on Saturday to visit refugees affected by conflict in Syria.
The pope went on to reveal that one of the refugees he met on the island was the widower of a Christian ‘martyr’ who had been killed in Syria.
In St Peter’s Square in Rome, the pontiff told the story of the man’s wife, who was murdered by extremists as she refused to renounce her faith.
The Pope said: “He is Muslim, and he told me that he married a Christian girl,”
“They loved each other and respected each other.
“But unfortunately the young woman’s throat was slashed by terrorists because she didn’t want to deny Christ and abandon her faith.”
The father of two was one of several hundred refugees the Pope met during his trip to the Greek island.
The newly relocated families have already given an interview to the Italian daily newspaper, La Stampa, and expressed their gratitude to the Pope for his “gesture of hope.”
Hasan, an engineer from Damascus, who arrived in Italy with his wife Nour and two-year-old son explained: “We saw friends and relatives die in the rubble, we fled Syria because we no longer had any hope.”