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Are you indifferent to tragedies in Mediterranean? Pope’s warning

people migrating Lampedusa

ELIANO IMPERATO | Controluce via AFP

Migrant disembarked from the Spanish Humanitarian Maritime Rescue ship 'Aita Mari' in the port of Salerno, southern Italy, on June 25, 2023. 172 migrants, including 57 women, 16 minor and 2 infants were rescued off the coast of Lampedusa.

Kathleen N. Hattrup - published on 08/13/23

Pope laments an "open sore of our humanity," calls us to "pain and shame."

Another shipwreck this week in the Mediterranean led the Pope to warn the faithful against “remain(ing) indifferent to these tragedies.”

After praying the midday Angelus this August 13, he said:

Another tragic shipwreck happened a few days ago in the Mediterranean Sea: forty-one people lost their lives. I prayed for them. And with pain and shame we have to say that since the beginning of the year already almost 2,000 men, women, and children have died in this sea trying to reach Europe.

It is an open sore of our humanity. I encourage the political and diplomatic efforts that seek to heal it in a spirit of solidarity and brotherhood, as well as the efforts of all those working to prevent shipwrecks and rescue migrants.

Four survivors, including an unaccompanied 13-year-old boy, were rescued on August 9 off the small Italian island of Lampedusa, not far from Tunisia. Thanks to their reports, authorities were able to piece together the tragedy, which happened between August 3 and 4.

UNICEF reported: “This time, a pregnant mother is among those who have lost their lives off the coast of Lampedusa, Italy. An 18-month-old child travelling with their mother has also died.”

As the Pope mentioned, at least 2,000 people have died since the start of the year trying to cross the Mediterranean, says the International Organization for Migration. Since 2014, it has counted 27,364 dead and missing at sea.

Pope Francis has made migrating people one of the great causes of his pontificate. On his first trip as pope, he visited the island of Lampedusa to throw a wreath of flowers into the sea and pray for the missing, in July 2013.

Last Sunday, as he flew back from WYD in Lisbon, he once again expressed his sorrow at the tragedies of migrants in the Mediterranean and North Africa. He once again condemned the “criminal” exploitation of migrants in certain camps.

His trip to Marseille on September 22 and 23 is motivated by these tragedies, he told journalists on the plane. In Marseille, he will be meeting bishops from around the Mediterranean. “[They] will be meeting, along with some politicians, to reflect seriously on the tragedy of migrants,” he explained.

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