Pope Francis holds vigil near Kraków amid tension over refugees

    As many as 1.6 million people gathered for a vigil with Pope Francis near Kraków on Saturday evening amid tensions between the pontiff and the Polish government over the issue of refugees.

    The Polish prime minister Beata Szydlo was forced to defend her government’s refusal to accept refugees from the Middle East. “Those who criticise Poland for not bringing in immigrants will probably say: Pope Francis came and lectured Poland,” she conceded.

    The country had admitted large numbers of Ukrainian migrants and also sent humanitarian aid to the Middle East, Szydlo told Radio Krakow.

    “We also need to keep in mind the security of our citizens. My duty is to make sure that Poles are safe in this world increasingly often ruled by terrorism and take utmost care to prevent events here in Poland that could pose a threat to Polish citizens,” Szydlo added.

    In a pointed reinforcement of Pope Francis’s repeated calls for compassion and generosity to refugees, the vigil heard testimony from Rand Mittri, 26, from Aleppo in Syria.

    “It may be difficult for many of you to understand the full breadth of what is happening in my beloved country, Syria,” Mitti told the gathering.

    “Every day we live surrounded

    Article source: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jul/30/up-to-1-million-people-expected-at-pope-francis-vigil-near-krakow

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