Pope calls migrant crisis ‘shipwreck of civilization’

Pope Francis visits Greece
Pope Francis visits the island of Lesbos to meet with the the refugees and migrants at the Mavrovouni camp, Greece, December 5, 2021. Vatican Media/­Handout via REUTERS

By Philip Pullella and Lefteris Papadimas

LESBOS, Greece – Pope Francis condemned the exploitation of migrants for political purposes on Sunday during a visit to the Greek island of Lesbos, branding the global indifference to their plight the “shipwreck of civilization”.

Francis walked through the Mavrovouni camp, which holds about 2,300 people, stopping to greet dozens of refugees and giving a high five to a young African boy.

He first visited the island, one of the main entry points for migrants, in 2016 and took 12 Syrian refugees back to Italy with him. He lamented that “little has changed” since then.

The Mediterranean, where thousands have died trying to make the crossing from north Africa to Europe, was still “a grim cemetery without tombstones.”

“Please, let us stop this shipwreck of civilization!” he said.

Francis for the second straight day chided those who use the migration crisis for political ends.

“It is easy to stir up public opinion by instilling fear of others,” he said, adding that people who are anti-immigrant “fail to speak with equal vehemence” about the exploitation of the poor, wars, and the arms industry.