Pope Francis tells Jewish leaders migrants enriched Europe

(Photo: Osservatore Romano)Pope Francis meets with members of the World Jewish Congress at the Vatican on Sept. 26, 2016.

Pope Francis has met members of the World Jewish Congress at the Vatican, telling them that migrants have enriched Europe and need to be integrated into society.

"Europe often forgets that it has been enriched by migrants," the Pope told the Jewish leaders at a Sept. 26 audience, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported.

"Europe is closing itself up. Europe is lacking creativity. Europe has a falling birth rate and problems of high unemployment," Francis said.

The Pope also spoke about migrants integrating into their new surroundings, which he called "important."

"The people who committed the terrorist attacks in Belgium were not properly integrated," he said referring to attacks some of which were aimed at Jews by extremists claiming to represent Islam.

Francis also reiterated a good Christian could not be an anti-Semite, and said Christians and Jews must speak out against brutality in the world.

"We need more friendliness and kindness, and we should not be afraid to speak out against brutality," the Pope said. "We should go on a joint journey together to make the world more secure. We need to speak out for peace."

In his meeting Pope Francis spoke about a series of issues pertaining to inter faith relations as well as the current migration crisis on the European continent, the Vatican newspaper Osservatore Romano reported.

The World Jewish Congress includes the heads of Jewish communities in Europe and the Americas, and ahead of the upcoming Rosh Hashana holiday, Pope Francis wished the Jewish world a happy new year.

The World Jewish Congress delegation was led by its president, Ronald S. Lauder.

Lauder told the pontiff: "We Jews have all been immigrants. We understand the situation the immigrants find themselves in."

He echoed the Pope's words for peace: "We pray for peace. We need to live in peace."

The delegation praised Francis for his recent visit to the Auschwitz concentration camp, used by the Nazis to exterminate 1.1 million people, of whom 90 percent were Jews.

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