Pope Francis warned Monday that the recent influx of migrants risked overwhelming European values and traditions, but said he was confident the continent could successfully integrate the newcomers.
In an annual address to diplomats at the Vatican City, the pontiff said the flood of new arrivals, mainly from the Middle East and Africa, was a major burden for Europe and had given rise to "significant" fears over security and international terrorism.
"The present wave of migration seems to be undermining the foundations of that 'humanistic spirit' which Europe has always loved and defended," he said.
Despite the "inevitable difficulties" in trying to absorb the migrants, who brought with them different cultures and traditions, the pope said he hoped European nations would prove capable of integrating and accepting the refugees.
"Europe, aided by its great cultural and religious heritage, has the means to defend the centrality of the human person and to find the right balance between its two-fold moral responsibility to protect the rights of its citizens and to ensure assistance and acceptance to migrants," he said.
More than 1 million people flowed into Europe last year in search of new lives in the West, including many trying to escape violence in Syria, Iraq and sub-Saharan Africa.