ROME — Pope Francis offered prayers Sunday for those “unjustly detained in foreign countries,” in hope they will soon be allowed to return to their home countries.
“I want to assure my prayer for the people who have been unjustly detained in foreign countries: unfortunately, there are several cases, for different, and sometimes, complex causes,” the pontiff said following his weekly Angelus address in the Vatican.
“I hope that, in the due fulfillment of justice, these people might return as soon as possible to their homeland,” he added, without specifying to which countries he might be referring.
Afghanistan comes immediately to mind, both because of the significant number of foreign nationals currently stranded in the Taliban-held nation and because of the pope’s frequent references to that tragic situation.
On Saturday, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) told Breitbart News that the Biden administration is being “disingenuous” in reporting on the number of Americans stranded in Afghanistan, estimating the number to be hundreds more than officially claimed.
It’s likely to be “over 500 American citizens,” Issa said. “And when you add in their family, you end up well over 1,000.”
“The absurdity that they’re still saying there’s only 100 American citizens after we got more than 100 out on just one flight tells you how disingenuous this administration is,” Issa had said Friday.
On August 15, the pope called for an end to armed violence in Afghanistan and urged Christians to pray for peace in the country.
“I join in the unanimous concern for the situation in Afghanistan,” he said. “I ask all of you to pray with me to the God of peace so that the clamor of weapons might cease and solutions can be found at the table of dialogue.”
“Only thus can the battered population of that country — men, women, elderly and children — return to their own homes, and live in peace and security, in total mutual respect.”
Returning to the topic on August 29, Francis issued another appeal for the Afghan people, urging Christians to personally assist them by every means at their disposal, especially prayer and fasting.
“Dear brothers and sisters, with great concern I am following the situation in Afghanistan,” the pope said following reports of suicide attacks near the Kabul airport.
“I entrust the deceased to the mercy of Almighty God and I thank those who are striving to help that population so tried, in particular the women and children,” he said.
“I ask everyone to continue to help the needy and to pray that dialogue and solidarity may lead to the establishment of a peaceful and fraternal coexistence and offer hope for the country’s future,” he said.
“In historic moments like this one we cannot remain indifferent,” he said, and “the history of the Church teaches us this.”
Likewise, on September 5 the pope launched a third appeal for the Afghan people, calling for prayers and generous reception of those seeking asylum.
“In these agitated moments that see Afghans seeking refuge, I pray for the most vulnerable among them,” the pope said. “I pray that many countries will welcome and protect those who seek a new life.”
“I also pray for internally displaced people to have the necessary assistance and protection,” he said.
“May young Afghans receive education, an essential commodity for human development,” he concluded, and “may all Afghans, both at home, in transit, and in the host countries, live with dignity, in peace and fraternity with their neighbors.”
Along with Afghanistan, other situations to which the pope may have been referring in his address Sunday are the case of the thousands of mostly Guatemalan migrants currently detained in the southern Mexican city of Tapachula and the dissidents and political prisoners detained in the Russian Federation-occupied eastern Ukraine.