World Bulletin / News Desk
Pope Francis on Monday urged European governments to keep welcoming refugees while acknowledging security and other concerns over the recent mass influx of people mainly from the Middle East, Asia and Africa.
Addressing ambassadors to the Holy See in the aftermath of the New Year's Eve mass assaults in Germany's Cologne, the pontiff said the present wave of migration seemed to be undermining the foundations of Europe's "humanistic spirit".
He urged European leaders not to to lose "the values and principles of humanity ... however much they may prove, in some moments of history, a burden difficult to bear."
Francis said Europe was struggling to cope with the unprecedented wave of refugees, which saw over a million people arrive on the continent's shores in the course of 2015.
"Many refugees from Asia and Africa see in Europe a beacon for principles such as equality before the law and for values inherent in human nature," he said.
"All the same, the massive number of arrivals on the shores of Europe appear to be overburdening the system of reception painstakingly built on the ashes of the Second World War, a system that is still an acknowledged beacon of humanity."
He said the sheer size of the influx was causing "inevitable problems" and raising concerns about "changes in the cultural and social structures" of host countries.
"Equally significant are fears about security, further exacerbated by the growing threat of international terrorism," the pontiff added.
The migration crisis -- Europe's worst since World War II -- has caused deep rifts between EU member states and left the bloc's Schengen system of open borders on the brink of collapse.
And the shock generated by events in Cologne at New Year has piled pressure on Chancellor Angela Merkel over her liberal stance towards refugees.
Pope Francis said EU governments could welcome people fleeing conflict, repression and hunger whilst also ensuring the security of their own citizens.
"Europe, aided by its great cultural and religious heritage, has the means to defend the centrality of the human person and to find the right balance between its twofold moral responsibility to protect the rights of its citizens and to ensure assistance and acceptance to refugees," he said.
At least 39 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli gunfire near Gaza border
Serbia's ambassador to Ankara says 5 government ministers will accompany Serbian president
He acted quickly -- just a day after decades of Castro rule ended and long time party loyalist Miguel Diaz-Canel assumed power as president.
Multimillion-dollar lawsuit raises issue of hacking of Democratic National Committee’s servers
Syrian regime would be 'ill-advised' to ignore message sent by last week’s allied missile strike, says US Defense Secretary
At least 39 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli interventions since border rallies began March 30
Thursday’s vote make Diaz-Canel first person outside Castro family to rule country in almost 60 years
Syrian regime had no clear picture of what was happening to them, says U.S. general, referring to U.S.-led joint attack
Hamas, Islamic Jihad announced plans earlier to boycott scheduled meeting of PLO’s National Council
Canadian provinces at war over future delivery of oil to Pacific countries
Terrorists killed during operations in Saladin governorate
Decision follows Ecuador’s withdrawal as mediator in talks between Bogota and rebel group
The economic damage of trade war will be smaller than its perceived risk, experts say
Top court says in 5-4 decision federal statute is 'unconstitutionally vague'
'Both chlorine and sarin gas were used in the attack,' says State Department spokesperson
Move ‘is just one step in a journey that requires dedication,’ says coffee chain’s CEO