ROME (JTA) – Pope Francis told a World Jewish Congress (WJC) delegation that migrants have enriched Europe and need to be integrated into society.
“Europe often forgets that it has been enriched by migrants,” the pope told the Jewish leaders at an audience Monday evening at the Vatican that was described as taking place in an atmosphere of “great cordiality and friendship.”
“Europe is closing itself up. Europe is lacking creativity. Europe has a falling birth rate and problems of high unemployment,” the pope said.
He added, according to an account of the meeting issued by the WJC: “We need to reflect on integration, which is important. The people who committed the terrorist attacks in Belgium were not properly integrated.”
Francis urged Christians and Jews to co-operate in battling hatred and brutality.
“We need more friendliness and kindness, and we should not be afraid to speak out against brutality,” he said, according to the WJC report. “We should go on a joint journey together to make the world more secure. We need to speak out for peace.”
The delegation of Jewish leaders was led by WJC President Ronald Lauder, who told the pope that Jews had “all been immigrants.”
Ahead of Rosh Hashanah, Francis wished Jews a sweet new year and reiterated his view that anti-Semitism is contrary to true Christian belief.