Pope returns with 12 refugees after visit to Greek island

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In a symbol of solidarity with refugees, Pope Francis took three Syrian refugee families from a refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos back to Rome with him on the papal plane from Mytilene International Airport, Saturday, the Holy See press office confirmed. The three families consisted of 12 people in total, including six children. According to the statement of the press office, the Pope wanted “to make a gesture of welcome” to the refugees and the Vatican will take responsibility for them. The refugees will be accomodated at the Vatican, sparing them from potential deportation under the EU-Turkey deal. Pope Francis arrived at Lesbos on Saturday morning to meet with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. After the short meeting the Head of the Roman Catholic Church headed to Moria refugee camp to meet with refugees and speak alongside Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople and Archbishop Ieronymos II of Athens. At the end of the speeches the three religious leaders signed a joint declaration addressing the international community on the issue of the refugee crisis. The pope’s visit to the island is aimed at showing the Catholic Church’s solidarity with, and compassion for the refugees and migrants.

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