Pope Francis, during a trip to the Greek island of Lesbos, chose 12 Syrian refugees to come live at the Vatican – all clean-cut, two-parent families with children, one of which is headed by a microbiologist and another, by a tailor and teacher.
NBC News reported one of the families, Hasan and Nour Essa, are simply like any other in the world, hoping to find a decent preschool for their son, 2, Riyad, and are thankful for the pope’s intervention.
“What’s happening with us, it’s like a dream,” said Nour Essa, who’s a microbiologist, to NBC News. “It’s like a beautiful dream.” She later called Francis a “real human being” who’s “more important than any Muslim religious mans,” the news outlet reported.
The pope, in what he described as a “last minute decision,” let the Essas and two other Syrian families join him on his flight back to Rome over the weekend. Vatican officials say the three families were chosen simply because their papers were in order.
The pope billed his action as “purely humanitarian,” he said, NBC News reported.
Another chosen family, Suhila and Ramy – a husband-wife duo with three children whose work involves tailoring and teaching, respectively – credited the pope with saving their lives.
“To me,” said Suhila, whose last name was not released, “he is now like an angel, a new father who saves the lives of his children. … No Muslim leader has done what he has done.”
And the last family selected by the pope for Vatican dwelling?
A married man named Osama, along with his wife and their two children, NBC News said.
“I still don’t believe we are here now,” said Osama, who only went by his first name in the report, speaking of his family’s relocation to the Vatican. “[The pope] is the father of peace in the world and peace has no religion.”
The pope, meanwhile, sent out a social media message underscoring his humanitarian mission.
“Refugees are not numbers,” he tweeted. “They are people who have faces, names, stories and need to be treated as such.”
The families selected to take up residence at the Vatican are vastly different from the faces of refugees who’ve been streaming into Europe, in part due to German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open door embrace of them. Critics of the widespread inflow of refugees have described the majority as young, single men, some of whom have been identified as gang members. As WND has previously reported, many of the refugees and asylum seekers moving points west from Syria have been accused of sexual assaults on women, particularly during New Year’s Eve celebrations in Cologne, Germany, and at reception centers in Norway.