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'Where is God?' Pope Francis delivers pro-migrant message days before EU announces controversial deportation deal
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When Pope Francis spoke during his general audience on Wednesday, he asked the nations of the world to open their hearts and doors to migrants stranded at Europe's borders. Only two days later, the European Union and Turkey reached a deal to "handle" the refugees who reach Greece.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - During his general audience, Pope Francis compared the migrants to the Israelites who were cast out of Babylon as described in the book of Jeremiah.
He explained the Babylonian exile was a "devastating experience for Israel," adding that "it was difficult to continue to believe in the goodness of the Lord."
"In these cases, one may ask, where is God? How is it that so much suffering can befall men, women and innocent children?"
Jeremiah was called to assure the people "God is not absent even today in these dramatic situations," the pontiff explained. "God is near, and makes great works of salvation for those who trust in him."
From Jeremiah's assurance for the people, to the world's concern with incoming migrants, Pope Francis asked, "How many of our brothers and sisters are living in this time a real and dramatic situation of exile," the pontiff asked, "far from their homeland, still in their eyes the reflection of their homes reduced to rubble, their hearts full of fear and often, unfortunately, sorrow at the loss of loved ones!
"And when they try to go somewhere else, they find the door closed to them. There they are, at the border, because so many doors and so many hearts are closed. Today's migrants suffer from the cold, without food and with no way to enter. They do not feel welcome."
As reports of 1 million migrants expected to hit Europe this year stream in, so do ideas of how to keep them out.
After several meetings and a flurry of ideas swirling around, the EU and Turkey reached a controversial deal.
After a two-day summit, Czech prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, tweeted: "The deal with Turkey approved. All illegal migrants who reach Greece from Turkey starting March 20 will be returned."
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told reporters the deal would "deepen EU-Turkey relations" and claimed, "For Turkey, the refugee issue is not an issue of bargaining, but values."
Meanwhile, Pope Francis stands by his numerous statements concerning the migrant crisis, "Life is a gift. ...When we speak of humanity, let us never forget the attacks on the sacredness of human life."
The pontiff concluded his general audience with: "the real and radical return from exile and the comforting light after the darkness of the crisis of faith is realized at Easter, in the experience full and definitive love of God, the merciful love that gives joy, peace and eternal life."
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