Pope Francis is being accused of insultingly comparing refugee camps with the horrific concentration camps of Nazi Germany. Those who criticize his words use the following quote from the off-the-cuff portion of his homily when he visited the Basilica of St. Bartholomew in Rome. He said regarding a refugee he met, “I do not know if he’s been able to get out of that concentration camp. Because refugee camps, many of them, are concentration camps.”
Period, end quote. That’s how those with an agenda against Pope Francis word their story. But there’s more.
The words that Pope Francis adds are enough to provide a glaringly obvious fact; Pope Francis is far more linguistically gifted than those who have made it their agenda to denigrate his every word and action. Here is his full quote, “This is the icon I bring as a gift here. I do not know if that man is still in Lesbos or if he managed to go somewhere else. I do not know if he’s been able to get out of that concentration camp. Because refugee camps, many of them, are concentration camps, because of the amount of people left there. The generous people who welcome them must bear this weight alone, because international agreements seem more important than human rights. This man had no grudge. He, a Muslim, carried forward this cross of pain without rancor.” Emphasis added
Notice especially the portion that says, “… because refugee camps, many of them, are concentration camps, because of the amount of people left there.”
Now let’s look up the definition of “concentration camp” from various sources:
–“A place in which large numbers of people, especially political prisoners or members of persecuted minorities, are deliberately imprisoned in a relatively small area with inadequate facilities, sometimes to provide forced labour or to await mass execution. The term is most strongly associated with the several hundred camps established by the Nazis in Germany and occupied Europe 1933–45, among the most infamous being Dachau, Belsen, and Auschwitz.” — the Oxford Dictionary
–“a prison camp in which political dissidents, members of minority ethnic groups, etc. are confined” ~ Collins Dictionary
–“a guarded compound for the detention or imprisonment of aliens, members of ethnic minorities, political opponents, etc., especially any of the camps established by the Nazis prior to and during World War II for the confinement and persecution of prisoners.” ~ Dictionary.com
–“A camp where persons are confined, usually without hearings and typically under harsh conditions, often as a resultof their membership in a group the government has identified as suspect.” ~ the Free Dictionary
Although the term “concentration camp” has been most closely associated with Nazi Germany, it is a generic term that speaks about imprisonment of large groups innocent people under harsh conditions. Many refugee camps fit all the definitions given above. Pope Francis even clarifies his reasoning, and yet some journalists with an agenda to provoke criticism chose to ignore it. Catholic journals with an agenda against Pope Francis have chosen to take the slanted secular editing of his words and use them as another reason to denigrate him.
It appears Pope Francis is correct. Many refugee camps are concentration camps. But in all of this fuss, haven’t we missed his bigger point regarding the suffering and persecution of refugees?
The Pharisees missed Jesus’s message for the sake of nit-picking his words and actions. Do any journalists recognize themselves?