VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis is calling for the faithful to not only welcome refugees, but to personally learn from their stories as a way to curb fears and "distorted" ideologies about them.
Francis made the appeal Sunday as he marked the U.N.'s World Day of Refugees, which will be celebrated on Tuesday.
Speaking from his studio overlooking St. Peter's Square, Francis prayed for all those who have lost their lives fleeing war and persecution. He said their stories of pain and hope are actually an opportunity for reciprocal understanding.
He said: "In reality, personal meetings with refugees can dissolve fears and distorted ideologies and become paths for growth in humanity."
Francis' four-year papacy has been marked by his profound solidarity with refugees and demand that countries build bridges of welcome, not walls.