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Pope Francis Gathers 'VIP Refugees, Immigrants' To Pray Across Mexico-United States Border

( [email protected] ) Feb 09, 2016 03:10 PM EST
Ahead of Pope Francis' trip to Mexico Friday, he prayed during his weekly Angelus Address from St. Peter's Square that the international community would aid Syrian refugees seeking asylum in the West.
Pope Francis is addressing drug trafficking and government corruption in Mexico, and Syrian refugees seeking asylum in the West, and other challenges in the Middle East. Reuters

Ahead of Pope Francis' trip to Mexico Friday, he prayed during his weekly Angelus Address from St. Peter's Square that the international community would aid Syrian refugees seeking asylum in the West.

The pontiff called for the "generous solidarity" of the world to help those suffering in the war-torn Middle East, reports the Christian Post.

Once in Mexico, the pope is expected to discuss the country's war against drug trafficking and government corruption. "You are living your little piece of war," he said in an address to Mexicans via the Notimex news agency last week.

"The Mexico of violence, the Mexico of corruption, the Mexico of drug trafficking, the Mexico of cartels, is not the Mexico that our mother [the Virgin Mary] wants," he continued, adding "I, of course, will not cover any of that up."

Francis reportedly also plans to address western migrant issues during his upcoming visit, as he is scheduled to attend a prayer ceremony on the border of the Mexico and the United States.

The Diocese of El Paso recently confirmed the pope will hold a "modest" gathering with immigrants, some of whom are undocumented, during his visit, reports the Christian Post. He will reportedly stand on the Mexico side of the Rio Grande river and pray with immigrants standing on the U.S. side.

"We are working with federal agencies to have a modest border gathering of refugees and victims of violence to receive a blessing from Pope Francis. We refer to the group as our 'Francis VIPs,'" the diocese said last week.

Francis told the Vatican audience he was concerned by "the dramatic fate of civilian populations involved in heavy fighting in Syria [who] are forced to leave everything behind to escape the horrors of war."

"I hope that, with generous solidarity, they are lent the necessary help to ensure their survival and dignity and I appeal to the international community to not save any effort to urgently bring [the parties] to the negotiating table," the pope said.

During a January meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the Vatican, the pope encouraged the leader to use his powerful position to help solve the issues "plaguing the Middle East," including terrorism, arms trafficking and the immigrant crisis.

The two "delved into the conclusion and application of the nuclear accord, and the important role that Iran is called upon to play, together with other countries of the region, was highlighted," the Vatican said in a statement, adding that Rouhani was encouraged to follow a leadership role that "[fosters] adequate political solutions to the issues plaguing the Middle East, fighting the spread of terrorism and arms trafficking."

Tags : Pope Francis, Mexico, Mexico News, Francis VIPs, Immigrants, syrian refugees, Hassan Rouhani, Vatican, Angelus Address, St. Peter's Square, Pontiff, Middle East, terrorism, arms trafficking, immigrant crisis