Pontiffs statement hours after landing in city could cause friction with Polands rightwing government
Pope Francis has urged people to welcome refugees fleeing war and hunger in his first public words after arriving in Krakw, indicating that he would not duck the issue likely to be a significant cause of tension between him and the Polish government during the five-day papal visit.
Speaking at the citys Wawel cathedral two hours after his plane touched down on Wednesday, Francis spoke of the need for a spirit of readiness to welcome those fleeing from wars and hunger, and solidarity with those deprived of their fundamental rights, including the right to profess ones faith in freedom and safety.
Everything possible must be done to alleviate the suffering while tirelessly working with wisdom and constancy for justice and peace, he added.
There are clear points of difference on the issue of refugees between the pope and the rightwing government, headed by the Law and Justice party, which was elected last October.
Francis has made the call for compassion and generosity to refugees a hallmark of his papacy. But the Polish government has refused on security grounds to accept refugees from the Middle East.
There are real flash points between Francis social agenda and the positions and comportment of the Law and Justice government, beginning with the obvious potential rift on refugees, wrote Vatican expert John Allen on Crux, a Catholic website.