Refugees should be viewed as a gift to host societies, not a costly problem, Pope Francis said Tuesday in a video urging solidarity with migrants.
"Too many times you have not been welcomed," Francis said in the video message sent to the Italian chapter of the international Catholic charity the Jesuit Refugee Service.
"Treated like a burden, a problem, a cost, you are instead a gift," he added, according to a transcript supplied by the Vatican.
"Forgive the closure and indifference of our society that fears the change in lifestyle and mentality that your presence asks for."
Migrants are fellow human beings and can be a bridge uniting distant peoples, different cultures and religions, Francis said.
"Refugees know the roads that lead to peace because they know the acrid odour of war," the pontiff's message concluded.
The message came after Francis made an acclaimed visit on Saturday to a migrant centre on the Greek island of Lesbos and returned to Rome with 12 Syrian refugees who will be cared for under the auspices of the Vatican.