VATICAN CITY — Insisting that every nation in Europe must do its part to help with the refugee crisis, Pope Francis has agreed to house in his Vatican residence one refugee, a 32-year-old Syrian bricklayer named Azzam Farza.
“His Holiness has decided to be a model of charity, to show that he is not above his own dictates,” said Vatican spokesman Father Eamonn Cleary, referring to Pope Francis’ call last week for Catholics across Europe to open their homes and parishes as sanctuary for the hundreds of thousands of refugees flowing into the continent.
Vatican City, with fewer than 900 permanent residents, covers about 110 acres and is entirely surrounded by the city of Rome. Despite cramped conditions in the guesthouse where the pope lives, Cleary says that His Holiness is willing to make room for Farza, who has been living in a refugee camp in Turkey since last year.
“The papal exercise bike can be moved downstairs to the library, because His Holiness never uses it anyway,” Cleary said. “And all those boxes of unpublished edicts and saints’ bones can be stacked up in the corner.”
Mario D’Occoni, the Vatican’s official pillow fluffer for visiting heads of state, says that a sturdy cot has already been set up in Pope Francis’ bedroom, and that a clean set of towels and linens can be found in the closet near the window overlooking Piazza Santa Maria.
“Itsa gooda bed,” D’Occoni said. “The signore Farzat willa like it very much.”