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Pope gives joyride to migrant kids newly arrived in Italy

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has given a joyride in his popemobile to eight migrant children who recently arrived in Italy from Libya.

Francis picked up the kids, who hail from Syria, Nigeria and Congo, at the start of his weekly general audience Wednesday and zoomed around St. Peter’s Square with them in the backseat. Some waved, others gave a thumbs up before bidding Francis goodbye with hugs and a selfie.

The Vatican said some of the children had arrived in Italy on a migrant boat a few months ago, while others arrived April 29 with their families via a humanitarian corridor.

Francis has clashed with Italy’s hard-line government about the need to welcome and integrate migrants. Francis returned home from a 2016 trip to Greece with a dozen Syrians on his plane.

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