VATICAN CITY (Christian Examiner) – In an address to crowds of pilgrims in St. Peter's Square, Pope Francis exhorted European Catholics to minister to the latest wave of migrants by sheltering one family per parish.
"It's not enough to say have courage, hang in there," said the Pope. "May every parish, every religious community, every monastery, every sanctuary in Europe host a family, starting with my own diocese of Rome."
On the heels of the most recent flood of migrants from Hungary into Germany and Austria, the Pope's comments could potentially offer protection and provision for tens of thousands of families.
The Pope said, "We are faced with a tragedy of tens of thousands of refugees in flight from death by war and by hunger and here on a journey of hope for their lives."
But countries like Germany, which has been accepting refugees with applause, are overwhelmed with people in need.
According to its 2015 update on populations of concern, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, estimated that there were 11,699,278 refugees globally, over a million more than the previous year. These numbers are higher still due to the violence and persecution that ISIS has spread throughout the Middle East.
Some European countries are resistant or openly hostile to refugees; Hungary has laid barbed wire along its border with Serbia to deter refugees along a main route to Europe.
The prime minister of Hungary, Viktor Orban, identified the refugees as a threat to European Christianity. "Those arriving have been raised in another religion and represent a radically different culture," he said, according to the Washington Post.
The Pope's message of succor was unequivocal. "The Gospel calls us to be neighbors to the smallest and most abandoned, to give them concrete hope," he said.
To the Pope, this concrete hope requires every religious community to take responsibility for caring for a refugee family.
The Guardian reports the European commission is expected to release a proposal for EU member countries each to host some of an estimated 160,000 new refugees.