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They arrived yesterday morning from all of Italy; from parishes, Christian communities of various denominations of Potenza, Terni, Frosinone, Torino, Novara… They reached the airport to welcome the refugees from Syria and Iraq arriving in Rome through the humanitarian corridors and to accompany them to their homes, where their new lives will begin. They are the true face of Europe, that which is not of walls, but of bridges, that which is faithful to its own identity. Andrea Riccardi, founder of Sant’Egidio, underlined it when he too went to welcome the refugees. In his welcome address he remembered the words that open the Treaty of Lisbon, the “Constitution” of the European Union: “The union is founded on values of respect of human dignity, of liberty, of democracy, of equality, of rule of law, of respecting human rights, including those of minorities.” And he added: “The Europe of walls is not the real Europe: the humanitarian corridors says that there is an Italy that wants to exercise its right to welcome.”

In front of him, children, elderly, families from places devastated by wars, among them Homs and Aleppo, Christians and Muslims, in whose eyes are both the pain of losses suffered and the hope for a new life.

There to welcome them was also Luca Maria Negro, President of the Federation of Evangelical Churches in Italy, who underlined that the future of Europe depends on “bridges,” not on walls, and declared his support for Riccardi’s proposal for an ecumenical European synod at which all Christians of the continent could confront the question of refugees. On the same train of thought was also Paolo Naso of the Waldensian Table. Alongside Italy, from the civil society, there were also representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs – viceminister Mario Giro – and of the Interior – prefect Angelo Maladrino. At the end, Daniela Pompei, of the Community of Sant’Egidio, ended the press conference thanking in advance all the Italians who will welcome the refugees.

The Beautiful face of Europe: A group of friends welcomes the refugees that arrived with the Humanitarian Corridors