Pope Francis, in a meeting billed by Vatican officials as a “summit on the migrant emergency,” met with 400 or so school-age children in the southern part of Italy to tell them to embrace the migrants who have been crossing into their country of late – that they have nothing to fear from them.
But his address took a turn toward the propaganda style when, minutes into his remarks, he said, “Migrants are not a danger – they are in danger,” and then called on the children to repeat after and with him: “They are not a danger – they are in danger,” Breitbart reported.
During his remarks, the pope also invited the children to recite a Hail Mary prayer out loud with him, to honor those who’ve died at sea during their refugee flights. He also carried what he said was the life jacket of a drowned Syrian girl, age 6, who lost her life during an ocean crossing to freedom, and showed what he claimed were several drawings from children of migrant status.
“[A rescue worker] brought me this life jacket and, crying, he said, ‘Father, I failed. There was a girl in the waves, but I could not save her. All that was left was her life jacket'” Francis said, waving the jacket to the children, ABC News reported.
He went on, speaking directly to the children, while seated in a cross-legged position in front of them: “I don’t want to upset you. but you are brave and you know the truth. They are in danger, many children … they are in danger. Think about this girl. What was her name? I don’t know, a child without a name. Each of you must give her the name you want to. She is in heaven. She is watching over us.”
Breitbart reported Francis also called on the children to remember their Christian duty when they consider the migrants, and to welcome all as brothers and sisters – much as the biblical story of the Good Samaritan illustrates, he said.
He suggested those who don’t take care of others with a welcoming attitude are guilty of hypocrisy, emphasized that strangers aren’t necessarily dangerous and bad and called for the children to keep their fear of migrants at bay because beneath the surface of various skin colors, all are children of the same Father, Breitbart reported.
The children reside in Calabria, a region of Italy that’s been particularly hit by the influx of migrants from sub-Sahara Africa.