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Pope Encourages Europeans to Offer Refugees Warm Welcome

Pope Francis speaks to alumni of Jesuit schools in Europe, who were in Rome for a conference on refugees, at the Vatican, Sept. 17, 2016.

Pope Francis encouraged European countries Saturday to welcome refugees fleeing violence in order to reduce terror and foster a greater sense of humanity and hospitality.

Speaking in Rome to alumni of Jesuit schools in Europe, Francis said authentic hospitality acts as a bulwark against terrorism.

"I encourage you to welcome refugees into your homes and communities, so that their first experience of Europe is not the traumatic experience of sleeping cold on the streets, but one of warm human welcome," he said. "Remember that authentic hospitality is a profound Gospel value that nurtures love and is our greatest security against hateful acts of terrorism."

Francis noted that the current refugee total exceeds 65 million. "This unprecedented number is beyond all imagination," he said. "The displaced population of today's world is now larger than the entire population of Italy!"

Members of the European Confederation and World Union of Jesuit Alumni and Alumnae gathered in Rome for the conference, titled “Global Migration and Refugee Crisis: Time to Contemplate and Act."