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Pope Francis to Shelter Refugees in the Vatican, Urges Catholics Across Europe to Do the Same

How the Church’s faith-based approach to refugee rights could make a real difference in Europe’s ongoing crisis.

image via wikimedia commons

Responding to the ongoing refugee crisis playing out across much of Europe, Pope Francis announced this week that Vatican City will take in two refugee families, and shelter them in the micronation’s pair of parish churches.


Speaking this past Sunday, Francis addressed the crisis directly, explaining:

“Faced with the tragedy of tens of thousands of refugees who flee death from war or hunger, on a journey towards the hope of life, the Gospel calls to us and asks us to be close to them, to the smallest and the abandoned; to give them real hope. Not merely to say; 'be brave, be patient'. Christian hope is assertive, with the tenacity of those who go towards a certain destination”.

In that spirit of not simply being brave, nor patient, Pope Francis urged immediate action in addressing this crisis. He implored every Catholic community across Europe to do as he has, and commit to hosting a refugee family, themselves:

“Therefore, as we near the Jubilee of Mercy, I wish to address an appeal to the parishes, religious communities, monasteries and shrines throughout Europe to express the concreteness of the Gospel and to welcome a family of refugees. A concrete gesture in preparation for the Holy Year of Mercy. May every parish, every religious community, every monastery and every shrine in Europe host a family, starting with my diocese of Rome”

The Associated Press points out that, should Italy’s roughly twenty seven thousand parishes to all take up Francis’ call to shelter families, it’s conceivable that they could ultimately shelter nearly all the approximately one hundred and twenty thousand refugees that country has taken in. The Vatican, meanwhile, is reportedly still in the process of determining which families they will host.

Pope Francis’ call comes as part of his ongoing preparations for the upcoming “Jubilee Year of Mercy,” which will last from December 8, 2015 through November 20, 2016. The year, which falls upon the 50th anniversary of 1965 conclusion of the second Vatican council, is intended to highlight instances of forgiveness, as well as encourage reconciliation between rivals and enemies. To that end, the Pope has announced a number of radical changes to Church guidelines, including those regarding marriage annulments. He has also given priests the authority to absolve parishioners for having had abortions–a right ordinarily reserved solely for bishops.

[via nbc]
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Photo by Li-An Lim on Unsplash

The future generations will have to live on this Earth for years to come, and, not surprisingly, they're very concerned about the fate of our planet. We've seen a rise in youth activists, such as Greta Thunberg, who are raising awareness for climate change. A recent survey indicates that those efforts are working, as more and more Americans (especially young Americans) feel concerned about climate change.

A new CBS News poll found that 70% of Americans between 18 and 29 feel climate change is a crisis or a serious problem, while 58% of Americans over the age of 65 share those beliefs. Additionally, younger generations are more likely to feel like it's their personal responsibility to address climate change, as well as think that transitioning to 100% renewable energy is viable. Overall, 25% of Americans feel that climate change is a "crisis," and 35% feel it is a "serious problem." 10% of Americans said they think climate change is a minor problem, and 16% of Americans feel it is not a problem that worries them.

The poll found that concern for the environment isn't a partisan issue – or at least when it comes to younger generations. Two-thirds of Republicans under the age of 45 feel that addressing climate change is their duty, sentiments shared by only 38% of Republicans over the age of 45.

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The Planet

The healthcare systems in the United States and the United Kingdom couldn't be more different.

The UK's National Health Service is the largest government-run healthcare system in the world and the US's is largest private sector system.

Almost all essential health services in the UK are free, whereas in America cost can vary wildly based on insurance, co pays and what the hospitals and physicians choose to charge.

A medical bill in the US

One of the largest differences is cost. The average person in the UK spends £2,989 ($3915) per year on healthcare (most of which is collected through taxes), whereas the average American spends around $10,739 a year.

So Americans should obviously be getting better care, right? Well, the average life expectancy in the UK is higher and infant mortality rate is lower than that in the US.

RELATED: The World Health Organization declares war on the out of control price of insulin

Plus, in the U.S., only 84% of people are covered by private insurance, Medicare or Medicaid. Sixteen percent of the population are forced to pay out of pocket.

In the UK, everyone is covered unless they are visiting the country or an undocumented resident.

Prescription drugs can cost Americans an arm and a leg, but in the UK, prescriptions or either free or capped at £8.60 ($11.27).

via Wikimedia Commons

The one drawback to the NHS system is responsiveness. In the UK people tend to wait longer for inessential surgeries, doctor's appointments, and in emergency rooms. Whereas, the US is ranked as the most responsive country in the world.

RELATED: Alarmingly high insulin prices are forcing Americans to flock to Canada to buy the drug

The New York Times printed a fair evaluation of the UK's system:

The service is known for its simplicity: It is free at the point of use to anyone who needs it. Paperwork is minimal, and most patients never see a bill. … No one needs to delay medical treatment until he or she can afford it, and virtually everyone is covered. …

According to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States spent 17.2 percent of its economic output on health care in 2016, compared with 9.7 percent in Britain. Yet Britain has a higher life expectancy at birth and lower infant mortality.

Citizens in each country have an interesting perspective on each other's healthcare systems. UK citizens think it's inhumane for Americans have to pay through the nose when they're sick or injured. While Americans are skeptical of socialist medicine.

A reporter from Politics Joe hit the streets of London and asked everyday people what they think Americans pay for healthcare and they were completely shocked.

Health
via Found Animals Foundation / Flickr

Service dogs are true blessings that provide a wide array of services for their owners based on their disability.

They can provide preventative alerts for people with epilepsy and dysautonomia. They can do small household tasks like turning lights on and off or providing stability for their owners while standing or walking.

For those with PTSD they can provide emotional support to help them in triggering situations.

However, there are many people out there who fraudulently claim their pets are service or emotional support animals. These trained animals can cause disturbances in businesses or on public transportation.

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Communities