Pope, in meeting with Jewish leaders, calls for integration of migrants

Ruth Ellen Gruber

ROME (JTA) – Pope Francis told a delegation of the World Jewish Congress that migrants have enriched Europe and need to be integrated into society.

“Europe often forgets that it has been enriched by migrants,” the pope told the delegation of Jewish leaders Monday evening in an audience at the Vatican that was described as taking place in an atmosphere of “great cordiality and friendship.”

“Europe is closing itself up. Europe is lacking creativity. Europe has a falling birth rate, and problems of high unemployment,” the pope said.

He added, according to an account of the meeting issued by the WJC: “We need to reflect on integration, which is important. The people who committed the terrorist attacks in Belgium were not properly integrated.”

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He urged Christians and Jews to cooperate in battling hatred and brutality. “We need more friendliness and kindness, and we should not be afraid to speak out against brutality,” he said, according to the WJC report. “We should go on a joint journey together to make the world more secure. We need to speak out for peace.”

The delegation of Jewish leaders was led by WJC president Ronald Lauder, who told the pope that Jews had “all been immigrants.”

Ahead of Rosh Hashanah the pope wished Jews a sweet new year, and he reiterated his belief that anti-Semitism is contrary to true Christian belief.