World

Pope breaks bread with migrants, urges hope

Pope Francis posed for a selfie at a regional migrant center in Bologna, Italy.
TONY GENTILE /pool
Pope Francis posed for a selfie at a regional migrant center in Bologna, Italy.

BOLOGNA, Italy — Pope Francis pressed his campaign for Europe to open its doors to migrants Sunday, visiting a migrant center in northern Italy, breaking bread with refugees, and insisting that politicians work for the most marginalized people and not special interests.

During a busy day in Bologna, Francis spent over an hour meeting with hundreds of migrants, greeting them one-by-one, and patiently posing for selfies under drizzly skies.

He hosted a luncheon of lasagna and turkey for asylum-seekers and prisoners in Bologna’s basilica, sitting down at a table in front of the altar.

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He drew cheers when he ad-libbed that he knew the migrants were desperate to have identification documents, and again when he insisted that each one had a name and a story of the tragedies endured. He donned the same plastic ID bracelet that the migrants were wearing and led hundreds in silent prayer for those who died in the journey.

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‘‘I hope your hope doesn’t become delusion, or worse, desperation,’’ he said.

Francis, the son of Italian immigrants to Argentina, urged European countries to open humanitarian corridors to let refugees in more quickly. And he pressed local leaders to integrate migrants into their communities.

At a stop in Cesena, Francis spoke to thousands in the main square about the importance of ‘‘piazza’’ in the life of a city, a place where people of all stripes come together and share a sense of community.

Associated Press