Opening the door to migrants is the best way to prevent "hateful acts of terrorism," Pope Francis said Saturday, reiterating his concern for the millions of people who are fleeing from poverty and conflict.
The pontiff's remarks, delivered during a meeting with a Jesuit group, came as Europe is struggling with the biggest influx of refugees since World War II, and controversy rages in Germany about Chancellor Angela Merkel's open-door migration policy.
"I encourage you to welcome refugees into your homes and communities, so that their first experience of Europe is not the traumatic experience of sleeping cold on the streets, but one of warm human welcome," Francis said.
"Remember that authentic hospitality is a profound gospel value that nurtures love and is our greatest security against hateful acts of terrorism," he added, recalling the global scale of the refugee crisis.
"Tragically, more than 65 million persons are forcibly displaced around the globe. This unprecedented number is beyond all imagination. The displaced population of today's world is now larger than the entire population of Italy," the pope noted.
Francis, the son of Italian expats to Argentina, is a vocal champion of migrants and other destitute people. Earlier this year, he visited a refugee camp in Greece and returned to the Vatican with 12 Syrians, who were offered shelter by a Catholic association in Rome.