Merkel Says Pope Reinforces Her Push for EU Unity on Refugees

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Pope Francis reinforced her determination to hold the European Union together and “not to forget Europe’s humanitarian responsibility” in the face of the refugee crisis.

Merkel commented to reporters at the Vatican after a private audience with the pontiff, who in a speech earlier on Friday denounced the “selfish interests” of European governments that put up border fences to keep out migrants. “I saw this as encouragement,” she said.

The pope’s words were “a call for us to act” and “hold Europe together, whether it’s about the currency, whether it’s protecting our external border, and above all not to forget Europe’s humanitarian responsibility,” Merkel said. She and the pope discussed how to achieve peace in Syria and “Europe’s responsibilities to offer help and support,” the chancellor said.

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