• Pontiff says Europe has successfully handled influxes in past
  • Roman Catholic leader says Europe enhanced by newcomers

Pope Francis referred to an “Arab invasion” during a speech to a French Christian group this week, adding that Europe has been enhanced by previous influxes of people.
The pontiff also noted that Europe has seen many invasions over the course of its history, according to excerpts of the comments posted on the website of the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.
Europe has been facing huge waves of migrants and asylum seekers, many of them from Syria and Iraq. While the seemingly endless streams of people have led to tension among the 28 nations of the European Union, some political leaders have said the newcomers should be seen as a new resource.

“Today we can talk about an Arab invasion,” the Roman Catholic leader said in the comments dated Thursday. “It is a social fact.”

L’Osservatore Romano reported the pope hastened to add Europe has always been able to “go forward and find itself enhanced by the exchange among cultures,” after saying that Europe is the “only continent that can bring about a certain unity to the world.”

The number of Syrians seeking asylum doubled to 362,800 last year and the number of Iraqis jumped to 121,500, the European Commission said Friday.

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