Pope Francis arrived at the Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos on Saturday and was greeted by a group of unaccompanied children.
DailyMail reports that the teenage boys who have made the perilous journeys from their homelands to Greece alone were lined up at the entrance, shaking the hands of the pope and two other religious leaders. Some were holding a Syrian flag.
The pope’s visit to the island, which has seen the majority of the arrivals of migrants heading into Europe, is highly symbolic. It comes shortly after the European Union began deporting new arrivals back to Turkey under a controversial deal meant to stem the refugee flow.
The pope then meet men and women who have fled their homelands seeking refuge in Europe. Some wept as they met the pope.
One man wept uncontrollably and wailed as he knelt down before Francis on Saturday and said:
‘Thank you, God. Thank you. Please Father, bless me.’
Children offered Francis drawings and the pope praised one little girl for her artwork, saying ‘Bravo. Bravo.’ Then as he handed it off to his staff he stressed:
‘Don’t fold it. I want it on my desk.’
As he walked by them, shaking hands with the men and bowing to the women, the refugees shouted out their homelands: ‘Afghanistan.’ ‘Syria.’
One little boy ducked his head through a fence to kiss Francis’ ring.
The visit is meant to highlight the plight of refugees, thank the Greek people who have welcomed them in, and to show a united Christian response to the humanitarian crisis unfolding.