Pope defends calling refugee centres ‘concentration camps’

Pope defends calling refugee centres ‘concentration camps’

Catholic leader stands by remark, despite American Jewish leaders urging him to reconsider 'regrettable choice of words'

Catholic leader Pope Francis
Catholic leader Pope Francis

 Pope Francis doubled down on his characterisation of refugee and migrant centres in Europe as “concentration camps.”

A German reporter asked the pope during an appearance in front of reporters on his papal plane that if he meant to use the term last week  during a ceremony on April 22 in Rome’s Basillica of St. Bartholomew. The reporter for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung explained to the pope that: “For us Germans this was obviously a very, very serious word, and very close to ‘extermination camp.’ There are people who say that this was a linguistic lapse. What did you intend to say?”

“These refugee camps — so many are concentration camps, crowded with people,” Francis said April 22 during a ceremony in commemoration of modern-day Christian martyrs in Rome’s Basillica of St. Bartholomew.  The remark reportedly was unscripted.

The American Jewish Committee criticised the comment the following day, urging the pope “to reconsider his regrettable choice of words.”

On Saturday, the pope said: “There was no linguistic lapse: there are concentration camps, sorry: refugee camps that are true camps of concentration.”

He noted that in such camps people are “closed in and can’t leave.”

He also referred to such camps as a “lager,” which is the German name for a concentration camp. “But it doesn’t have anything to do with Germany, no,” he said.

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