ROME (AP) — The pope has welcomed refugees at center in Rome as part of his mission to extend solidarity to migrants fleeing war and hardship for Europe.
Pope Francis arrived discreetly without a motorcade and greeted refugees and well-wishers waiting outside the center run by Jesuits, his order. Inside, Italian media said he blessed a pregnant woman before going to the cafeteria where refugees were eating.
The pope noted that many of the refugees were Muslim and from many different countries, adding: "We don't need to fear the differences." He also proposed converting unoccupied convents into centers for refugees.
He spent about 90 minutes meeting about 500 people, refugees, workers and volunteers Tuesday.
The pope's private visit follows his July trip to Lampedusa to draw attention to refugees' plight.