Pope Francis urges world to open arms to migrants

Vatican City (AFP) –


Pope Francis on Wednesday urged people across the world to open their arms to migrants, as Catholic charity Caritas launched its "Share the Journey" campaign on migration.

"With open arms ... that is exactly how to welcome (migrants), with arms wide open," Francis said at his weekly audience in St Peter's square.

The pontiff, himself the son of Italian emigrants to Argentina, added: "Hope is what drives the hearts of those who depart. It is also what drives the hearts of those who welcome: the desire to meet each other, get to know each other, to dialogue."

The two-year Caritas campaign is aimed at changing how people consider migrants and refugees, with the 'reach out' gesture demonstrated by Francis on Wednesday at the centre of its awareness campaign.

Filipino Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, President of Caritas Internationalis, said the idea was that, "if we bond with refugees and migrants, we will break down the barriers with which some are trying to separate us.

"The campaign reaches out to recognise, restore and share our common humanity."

Caritas has national branches in over 160 countries and the campaign is also being backed by other charities, the UN's food and refugee agencies and the International Organisation for Migration.