ROME (AP) — Pope Francis is praising acceptance for migrants as a way to show brotherhood, even as Europe's welcome mat wears thin.
Francis sent a message Monday to a diocesan-organized conference in southern Italy promoting brotherhood in the Mediterranean area.
He encouraged Christians, young people and "all persons of good will to consider the presence of migrants an opportunity for human growth, encounter and dialogue" as well as an opportunity to practice charity.
In the last few years, Italy has taken on hundreds of thousands of asylum-seekers, many of them economic migrants, who were rescued at sea from smugglers' boats setting out from Libya's coast. Several European countries have refused to follow EU-assigned quotas to distribute the migrants. Many Italian politicians acknowledge Italy's patience for caring for migrants is fraying.