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MUNICH — There are more than 121,000 Catholic parishes in Europe. On Sunday, Pope Francis called on every one of them to take in migrants.
The Pope made his first public comments on the migrant crisis at the Vatican as the lines of those fleeing Syria, and elsewhere, continue in staggering numbers.
Germany is already bracing to take in 800,000 migrants this year. Many of them arriving in Munich.
Throwing down its borders and opening its arms, the German interior ministry said nearly 12,000 migrants have arrived over the weekend. And counting.
The fear and desperation that had been etched on their faces for so long gave way to relief and smiles.
And while they were welcome, too, at the train station in Vienna, no one wanted to hang around long.
They jumped on the first train they could to Germany, Europe’s richest country, and one that allows all Syrian migrants would be allowed to apply for asylum.
On board was a curious mix of migrants and ordinary paying passengers.
Many took the chance to get some rest, safe in the knowledge the next stop would be their last.
And rest, they did. But they had stories to share, too.
One young mother on the train said she’s been traveling without her husband for a month.
She said she had to walk for miles, carrying not just four-month-old Raya, but everything they had. With a toddler in tow.
As we got closer to Munich, Muhammad Zuhair from Damascus told us he had reason again to hope.
“We very happy because we arrive to here (sic) looking for our future,” he said. “We’re looking for good life for our children.”
Abdul Tarim from Damascus said the worst part was Hungary and how they were forced into refugee camps.
“No freedom,” he said. “We want buy food and no. We want buy any food and drink, no (sic).”
One of those camps was still surrounded by armed guards today, those inside still waiting to know whether they too would be allowed to travel onwards.
Once migrants get off the train in Munich, they register here, just outside the train station. Then they’re sent to other parts of Germany for accomodation in places like gymnasiums and fairgrounds. In some cases they begin training…a bit of Germany and vocational skills.